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Friday, December 14, 2007

What's Your Number

During a recent PD we learned some cooperative learning strategies and some of the teachers were concerned that it only involved lower level thinking. In defense of higher order thinking skills they cited the fact that memorization is becoming less necessary. Specifically they talked about phones numbers.

This, however, is a false comparison. Phone numbers are an end, meaning that these bits of information cannot be reordered, evaluated, or synthesized. Obviously not every piece of data is going be kept at the forefront of your brain for easy retrieval, but in order to successfully navigate higher order thinking skills certain neural patterns should be fresh and easily accessed.

Sometimes as teachers we forget the basics necessary to understanding. We assume that certain brain structures and information are common knowledge, but we are not common so we can't accurately judge what the commoners possess. This "let them eat cake" attitude leads us to ignore memorization which is foundation of higher order learning. Without a basic understanding of vocabulary and concepts it is impossible to get to the tougher stuff.

Good teaching reaches the shallows, deepest fathoms, and all other depths of knowledge. To extend a metaphor, Every deep sea dive starts at the shore.

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