Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Thinking-learning connection / Creating a culture of thinking

Posted by Tara Della Rocca

Perkins, D. (1993). The thinking-learning connection: Creating a culture of thinking. Educational Leadership, 51(3), 98-99.

This article is a brief 'primer' on a culture of thinking. Perkins describes the reason for attempting to 'enculturate' thinking and describes briefly, how to do this in the classroom.

" has the opportunity, and hence the responsibility, to improve students' thinking. A variety of studies show that people often do not use their minds well, and can learn to do so better (p.98)."

Thinking skills and abilities are not enough...
"Several philosophers and psychologies have written of the importance of "thinking dispositions." If you have a disposition to behave in a certain way, you have the kinds of attitudes, understandings, and motivations that nudge you to behave that way (p.98)."
This connects to Ritchhart's 'intellectual character'. Students need more than the ability to think - they need motivation, inclination, proper attitudes to use thinking skills.

"People acquire dispositions all the time, through "enculturation." We grow up, play, and work in settings where certain values and practices are honored. We learn, by osmosis as it were, to honor them too. The moral: To teach of thinking, it's not enough to teach skills and strategies. We need to create a culture that "enculturates" students into good thinking practices (p.98)."

"It's proved helpful to view enculturation as involving three elements: exemplars, interactions, and explanations. We absorb a culture because we encounter examplars - people around us, or historical or fictional figures who embody certain norms and practices; and because we have interactions with friends, teachers, parents, and others that highlight certain expectations; and because, now and again, people offer direct explanations about anything from table manners to how to make better decisions (p.99)."

Perkins briefly describes what this means for educational practice. Thinking is not a separate lesson for students. Rather, it must be part of the culture in which teachers provide exemplars, interactions and explanations. Perkins gives examples of these three elements, as they pertain to enculturating thinking in the classroom.

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