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What are classes would you offer to today's students to help improve their education?

What classes would you add a options to all students to help them learn?

I came up with a few:

1) Reasoning- Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art, and is normally considered to be a definitive characteristic of human nature. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reason)

2) Learning-Learning is acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning)

3) Critical thinking-Critical thinking is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking)

4) Active Listening- Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they have heard in their own words, to confirm what they have heard and moreover, to confirm the understanding of both parties.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_listening)

5) Study skills-Study skills or study strategies are approaches applied to learning. They are generally critical to success in school, considered essential for acquiring good grades, and useful for learning throughout one's life. There are an array of study skills, which may tackle the process of organizing and taking in new information, retaining information, or dealing with assessments. They include mnemonics, which aid the retention of lists of information, effective reading, and concentration techniques, as well as efficient note taking. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studying)

I provided wiki links for further explanation.

What are yours?


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  • Aug 8 2013: Thanks Robert. In fact my dissertation explored whether I could improve the problem solving capacity of 6th graders in scientific contexts that I designed, so I am very interested in how young students learn, think, etc. I was able to improve the abstract reasoning of students by teaching them to successfully manipulate models so that the outcome of the experiments changed. This knowledge was generalized to other such problem solving situations in my study. So, this led me to believe that it is the DOING of things in class with meta-learning support that most effectively helps students execute critical thinking and problem solving more effectively.

    Eighth to 12th graders are certainly capable of engaging in this experience, but this approach should not be looked as highly intellectual lessons for gifted students only. The key here is to get all students involved by creating an engaging classroom atmosphere. My 6th grade teacher (Mr. Clark) was a genius at this in the 5 subjects he taught us. He encouraged all of us to have ideas and got almost all students involved. If your idea was wrong, he explored it with you so you could see the flaw in your thinking--and got peers involved in the conversation. Everyone had a chance to share ideas, and this approach raised the level of the whole class (like a rising tide and all boats). So, this approach is highly flexible as to language or conceptual level, but learning is nevertheless improved for all those who are engaged. That is, IF students do their part, then they progressively become more autonomous learners--at their own pace, which is highly important.

    Also, 'engaging' is not the same as 'entertaining'--when engaged we sit forward in anticipation of participating, when entertained we sit back passively--far too much of the latter in US education.

    Important too to remember that this a bi-directional process (think about it..).

    All students will respond to this if respectfully motivated. :)
    • Aug 8 2013: Ernst,


      Love the engaging vs entertaining distinction.

      I had a few teachers like Mr. Clark in my life, and I really liked the learning experience, but I could not put my finger on the reason why I like going to their class.

      I tried to practice the 'explore your answer until you realize it is wrong approach' with my kids and my Scouts, but to me it just seemed like a way to not have them shut down communication channels with me. As I recall, it took some patience, took some time, but was effective. It was only a rare occasion when you had to jump in and play the heavy with a 'no' or 'this is the way you do it', but usually only when safety was involved.

      By they way, don't tell anyone, but this same technique works with mentoring strong minded (even arrogant) young colleagues, as they will argue to their last breathe to prove they are not wrong, but are often quite willing to jump to a new point of view if they see a flaw in logic in their own. You can usually tell this transition has occurred when you hear statements like 'Oh, well that is what I meant' and then a few weeks later "Well my idea is " and they use your logic to support it. It is fun to watch.

      Definitely agree with the respect at all levels. Some of my teachers always talked down to us. The best seemed to take what we offered and include it somehow in the lectures, and make a point of citing our contribution. That really helped build my ego as a young student.

      I suspect that 20 years from now, someone will be in a blog a cite his or her learning experience in Mr Schneider's class with the same fondness that you recall your experience in Mr, Clark's class.

      Thanks for your response.

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