Saturday, October 11, 2014

Do we teach thinking? (Harvard study meets Charlotte Mason)

by Anne White

Have you seen this Yahoo news article citing research by Shari Tishman at Harvard?  Tishman describes seven "thinking dispositions" that good thinkers not only have but actively use.
"1. The disposition to be broad and adventurous: The tendency to be open-minded, to explore alternative views; an alertness to narrow thinking; the ability to generate multiple options."
11. But we, believing that the normal child has powers of mind which fit him to deal with all knowledge proper to him, give him a full and generous curriculum; taking care only that all knowledge offered him is vital, that is, that facts are not presented without their informing ideas. Out of this conception comes our principle that, [Education is the Science of Relations.] ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education
"2. The disposition toward sustained intellectual curiosity: The tendency to wonder, probe, find problems, a zest for inquiry; an alertness for anomalies; the ability to observe closely and formulate questions."
12. "Education is the Science of Relations"; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books, for we know that our business is not to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid as many as may be of––
          "Those first-born affinities
      "That fit our new existence to existing things." ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education

"3. The disposition to clarify and seek understanding: A desire to understand clearly, to seek connections and explanations; an alertness to unclarity and need for focus; an ability to build conceptualizations."

13. In devising a SYLLABUS for a normal child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered:
     (a) He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.
     (b) The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e., curiosity)
     (c) Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form.  ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education
"4. The disposition to be planful and strategic: The drive to set goals, to make and execute plans, to envision outcomes; alertness to lack of direction; the ability to formulate goals and plans."
17. The way of the will: Children should be taught, (a) to distinguish between 'I want' and 'I will.' (b) That the way to will effectively is to turn our thoughts from that which we desire but do not will. (c) That the best way to turn our thoughts is to think of or do some quite different thing, entertaining or interesting. (d) That after a little rest in this way, the will returns to its work with new vigour. (This adjunct of the will is familiar to us as diversion, whose office it is to ease us for a time from will effort, that we may 'will' again with added power. The use ofsuggestion as an aid to the will is to be deprecated, as tending to stultify and stereotype character, It would seem that spontaneity is a condition of development, and that human nature needs the discipline of failure as well as of success.) ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education
"5. The disposition to be intellectually careful: The urge for precision, organization, thoroughness; an alertness to possible error or inaccuracy; the ability to process information precisely."
18. The way of reason: We teach children, too, not to 'lean (too confidently) to their own understanding'; because the function of reason is to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth, (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case, reason is, practically, an infallible guide, but in the latter, it is not always a safe one; for, whether that idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.  ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education
"6. The disposition to seek and evaluate reasons: The tendency to question the given, to demand justification; an alertness to the need for evidence; the ability to weigh and assess reasons."
19. Therefore, children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of ideas. To help them in this choice we give them principles of conduct, and a wide range of the knowledge fitted to them. These principles should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.  ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education
"7. The disposition to be metacognitive: The tendency to be aware of and monitor the flow of one's own thinking; alertness to complex thinking situations; the ability to exercise control of mental processes and to be reflective."
5. Therefore, we are limited to three educational instruments––the atmosphere of environment, the discipline of habit, and the presentation of living ideas. The P.N.E.U. Motto is: "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life."
 ~~ Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education