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Do kids think differently to adults?

I asked my grade 5/6 class what they thought 'thinking' was. We then discussed how different people think in different ways and, finally, we talked about whether or not kids think differently to adults - which led onto 'can you be taught how to think'.

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    Dec 6 2013: Since some regions of the brain don't (fully) develop until the age of almost 19 (+/-2 years) it would be very strange if kids didn't think differently.
    Take the temperal lobe and the superior temporal cortex as examples.

    Also, here's the wiki on human brain development: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_brain_development_timeline
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    Dec 9 2013: We are pursuing ‘Thinking School’ Status (which is not a tautology as someone once asked me!) which incorporates Habit of Mind and given the early signs of progress in meta-cognition at our school, I’d say we can be taught how to think. The 16 habits form a really useful framework to this:
    • Persisting
    • Managing Impulsivity
    • Listening With Understanding and Empathy
    • Thinking Flexibly
    • Thinking About Thinking (Metacognition)
    • Striving For Accuracy and Precision
    • Questioning and Posing Problems
    • Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
    • Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
    • Gathering Data through All Senses
    • Creating, Imagining, and Innovating
    • Responding with Wonderment and Awe
    • Taking Responsible Risks.
    • Finding Humor
    • Thinking Interdependently
    • Remaining Open to Continuous Learning
    In answer to your other question, do children think differently to adults?…I think they think the same way but with different emphasis. I do think that the brain is explained by a useful metaphor of ‘horse and rider’ ..and the ‘horse’ ( the limbic brain) is much stronger in children and must be considered and directed with skilful development of the ‘rider’ (the neocortex). In my experience the rider lies deeper and more difficult to access and this is why the Habits Of Mind are really useful to build learning power in young people. They give us a scaffold on which to hang our cognitive awareness. Teachers have to be very skilled to develop the minds of our children and understanding how they work is essential for success…the rider must make progress but neglect to nurture the horse and you’ll soon know about it! Teachers have a tough job…
  • Dec 6 2013: Hi,Dear Isabel Coe,Yes,I think I can be taught how to think.But I am not sure if how much I can be taught which depends on my childhood experience or not.I meant if I have gotten the potential in my childhood,But if nobody teaches me,they won't be explosed?or on other cases?
  • Dec 6 2013: I think as a child you definitely think differently. Of course, from a biological standpoint your brain hasn't fully developed yet, but truly the situation and environment a child grows up leads to different ways of thinking. Ultimately, I think every child will one day grow from the thought process of fantasy and carelessness and into a thought process of rationality and anxiety, which is completely understandable. But since the environment affects the time of which it takes these kids to reach that stage in thinking, surely it is possible to be taught how to think. Just look at some of the amazing kids speaking at TED conferences. Some of them are still at middle school age and think more insightfully and abstractly than many adults, not to mention the kids in their age group. Many of them are naturally intelligent, but without a powerful learning environment stemming from information not from experiences, I bet very few of them would have made it on TED as early as they did. Therefore, teaching a way to think is definitely possible whether it is through a strict learning environment or through the "brainwashing" made infamous by mainstream media and propaganda.
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    Dec 5 2013: Let me say it like that,
    few years ago there were days when I used to like doing something veery much. And waking up I used to find out I don't want to do them anymore and simply cannot do them - like to play secret agents or pretend we see ghosts.

    So, yes, sometimes you just grow up and you can't go back. But this doesn't mean you don't remember it. So by remembering you keep it in your life.

    Being a child is a "green" memory. It's not fully remembered but it's kind of being very happy, very embarrased, totally crazy and to lie a little. Then you start to lie a lot.
    However, the difference between thinking as a child and as an adult is this - You stop making fantasies, if you keep on doing them, they think you're a bit mental. However! Trust me, do not let them kill your spirit. Dream bold and believe in your world. It is the only place where you can be safe when life wants to eat your legs.
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    Dec 5 2013: When my son was in fifth grade, they had a unit early in the year on the brain and how their brains would change as they developed through adolescence, into their twenties, and into adulthood. One area that is far less developed in children is executive function.

    If your students grow more interested in this subject, I think you will find great age-appropriate curriculum materials. I don't know of any specific ones or the one used in my son's class, but a couple of first places you might look are Lawrence Hall of Science (Berkeley) and the San Francisco Exploratorium.
  • Timo X

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    Dec 4 2013: You can, and indeed, should be taught HOW to think. Critical thinking is the single most important thing you learn at school, because it allows you to reflect on WHAT you are taught. In this context, you might find the article by Keith Stanovich in the link below an interesting read. He delineates intelligence from rationality, i.e. the ability to grasp complexity from the ability to think logically. Because even if our intelligence is mostly fixed, principles of rationality can definitely be learned, and this may ultimately have more impact our lives.

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rationality-versus-intelligence