Assessment, Cognitive Enablers, Creativity, Creativity and Conformity, Critical Thinking, Discussions, Higher Education, Lecturing, Motivation, Socelor, Teaching Methods, The Science of Learning, Thinking & Learning

Experiences from inside the classroom

This is a personal experience blog post of things I have noticed during my time in post-secondary education.
There is an implicit method within modern education that covers up the fact they are not really teaching critical thinking. Part of this is class participation being the bare minimum, encouraging maybe a small amount of class time to open discussion amongst the students. Even with discussion now and then it is the professor that decides the takeaway message from the course. Even if there are varied perspectives offered they are run through the filter of the professor so students are still being exposed to a limited view of the topics being presented.

Another noticeable aspect in classrooms is when the professor actually throws discussion out to the class. Very few may respond because it appears that they really do not have anything to say. I doubt it is because of a lack of interest, but rather it appears more likely that they have only been presented with what to learn to pass their classes.
I think it is unlikely that outside of the walls of the institution these students are researching or reading further into topics in their spare time, it seems to be a rarity. Something that implies an intrinsic motivation to learn, not extrinsic. It seems this is indicative of the problem. There could be a discussion but the way the curriculum is designed relies on grades and giving the correct answers as dictated by the professor. So, in the case of the professor throwing out an opportunity for discussion, the student may only state what they know and if it is outside the realm of what they have learned in their traditional modern education then, of course, you are going to get blank-eyed stares and gaping mouths.

The framework of the modern class setting is fooling itself thinking that it is teaching students how to critically think by bombarding them with “the answers” and often limited views. It basically translates to “think critically, but more importantly, pay attention to what I want you to walk away with.” or “Think for yourself, but only to this point, otherwise you’re too far off course.”
This message is further reinforced through the process and shape of the class, as it is a group or collective. Given the formation and the way collective groups function can lead to the implicit action of putting a nail back in if it stands out because it is typically disruptive to the whole of the group. Essentially, don’t be “that person”, the others in the group just want to take the lecture in and go about their business. Clearly, external motivation has captured the collective and has proliferated the need for answers. However, this has taken away the art of independent exploration and asking questions allowing for an element to really develop higher order thinking.
Another one of the factors that contribute to this, at least in University settings, is that most professors are researchers first. With this, they are expected by the institution to pump out papers regularly to add to its prestige and finances. So they may be specialized or professional in their respective fields, but more often than not, they are not specialized in education or teaching.
I found these various factors to be the most common during my time at the university, despite the availability of all the information on the internet, many discussions seemed to never leave the realm of what was being taught inside the institutions walls, as if it were the only source of knowledge for many students I had discussions with.
With Socelor I am helping bring learning outside of this ineffective framework that has for too long prevented many from developing the ability to think for themselves and to help prepare them for what the world is going through now and the future. Through the synthesis of knowledge and higher order thinking learners can look forward to being able to think in such a way that moves with the pace of the world they live in and not one dictated by the constraints of outdated educational structures.

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