How to make the children don the thinking cap?

A Question By Saida Ahmad

Wrack your brains and hit the nail on the head. May be a Herculean task but it pays rich dividends to hone our thinking skills. Ask, ask and ask thought provoking questions. Answers will follow effortlessly and spontaneously. To keep the mind lubricated, we have to indulge in silent reflection,on what strikes a chord in our mind. Do give it a try.

11 thoughts on “How to make the children don the thinking cap?

  1. That’s a tough one. But that’s the challenge i guess, time to wrack your brain and wrack it hard and non-stop. Mind is never static, it ticks all the time. It has to be fed with stimuli so that it gets cracking fast and furiously. The more thought provoking the question , the more interesting the seach for solutions. Mind is all powerful, capable of thinking even during deep sleep. Most of us use it to one fourth of its capacity. Imagine the realm of possibility if the entire brain was used!! It would be a win-win for all. We should make kids realise its potential and where it could take us if fully utilised. They should be encouraged to make a question bank after every chapter. They should be asked to think out of the bubble and driven to write questions that make you sit up! No pedestrian queries like straight questions that don’t tickle the mind at all. Why, where, when, how should become part of their daily lexicon, their very being. Once the thinking process is triggered, more than half the battle is won.
    Saying it or writing it down in your plan is the easiest part. Its how you execute it, in how many ways and how often that could cause a few hiccups but then the art of winning is to try what you believe in sincerely, never mind if different methods are adopted by different teachers.

  2. Well put,and correctly. The problem is that many of us have taken to easy and structured thinking. We only know best how to impart information. Do we really make things challenging for the students? We have also seen a fall in reading habits. Reading always increases our capacity to think. Are we encouraging our children to be voracious readers? How then can we expect them to be thinkers?

    • You are quite right Suparna. Imparting information is a futile exercise. At the press of a key, anyone can do that. Information should be used to draw deductions, otherwise it has no meaning. A teacher who can inspire kids to stretch their imagination and boundaries, innovate and ideate without fear or favour is a good teacher. They should go beyond the text book and not always accept it as gospel truth. They should be trained to raise questions, even uncomfortable ones and seek answers. They should also be appreciated for showing the courage to agree to disagree with their seniors. They must be allowed to give a free rein to their thoughts, never mind if they clash with the old theories of conventional wisdom. Let them put them upside down and question their relevance in today’s fast paced world. In short they should express freely without a gag order. In such an environment who wouldn’t be compelled to think? Most adults balk at this kind of freedom and therein lies their folly. It is so easy to confirm. It takes a lot to swim against the tide and yet come up trumps!

      • I agree Rekha aunty. The old theories have lived their lives. Now is the time to re-invent the old theories, and till we teach the children to question, how can they be thinkers?
        Questioning is difficult as many a times it faces opposition, many times it makes the elders uncomfortable and hence the children are silenced, many a times we fail to give satisfactory answers but never mind just to tug on is the rule of life.
        In History, are we asking the child to be historically imaginative? Are we teaching them to see the relevance of a particular event? Are we asking the basic question how does this subject impact our lives? Do we ask the children to find a solution for a particular problem? It can be immature but we can definitely try to encourage the child to do that.
        Again, importantly, is our purpose to impart education or empower the children? Is our intention to create knowledge banks or people who can take on the world and make a difference? We have to ask the question ourselves. Hopefully we can all try to find the answer.

  3. There are many ways which can help make the process of thinking visible. These techniques help develop thinking skills. One such technique is:
    THINK / PUZZLE / EXPLORE
    A routine that sets the stage for deeper inquiry

    1. What do you think you know about this topic?
    2. What questions or puzzles do you have?
    3. What does the topic make you want to explore?

    Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?
    • This routine activates prior knowledge, generates ideas and curiosity and sets the stage for deeper inquiry.
    Application: When and where can it be used?
    • This routine works especially well when introducing a new topic, concept or theme in the classroom.
    • It helps students take stock of what they already know and then pushes students to identify puzzling questions or areas of interest to pursue.
    • Teachers can get a good sense of where students are on a conceptual level and, by returning to the routine over the course of study, they can identify development and progress.
    • The third question is useful in helping students lay the ground work for independent inquiry.
    Launch: What are some tips for starting and using this routine?
    • With the introduction of new topic—for example, earth, leaves, fractions, Buddhism—the class can engage in the routine together to create a group list of ideas.
    • Between each phase of the routine that is with each question adequate time needs to be given for individuals to think and identify their ideas.
    • Note that it is common for students to have misconceptions at this point—include them on the list so all ideas are available for consideration after further study.
    • Students may at first list seemingly simplistic ideas and questions. Include these on the whole class list but push students to think about things that are truly puzzling or interesting to them.

  4. I am happy you are giving positive feedback. Hope you get good response from the children with your conscienctious effort to bring about a change in their approach: think, think,think.

  5. Learners are core participants and learning enviornment should orient on self learning techniques.Effective learners do not ‘fly solo’but learn best in group interactions. Inquiry based learning also motivates and enthuses the class. A simple suggestion on any topic as ” one line says it all” helps them to put on their thinking caps.

  6. If all our teaching was in the form of questions children would be compelled to think! Thinking is a very difficult but a fun task..so it is our job to provide as many opportunities as possible for the students to think! Supplying answers and ready made facts to students, or to make our teaching very “information based” is a sure way to discourage thinking. “let’s find out” should be the mantra. Children should be rewarded for asking good questions, for doing some good thinking and not just for regurgitating facts they have been given. We should give them opportunities to do some analysis, some problem solving, some organisational thinking and some reflective thinking. If we make these our teaching and learning goals and if we make our classrooms thinking places, questioning places – then they will become life-long learning places.

    But first let us all become thinking teachers ourselves!!! Let us ask meaningful questions, think hard about how to give children thinking tasks!

    Enjoying the teachers forum – Good luck! and Happy thinking!!

    • It’s lovely to know that all of us are on the same page. We have all voiced the same: to question what doesn’t satisfy us ofcourse in our own individual style. I give extra marks to children who give me answers that are different from mine. When they ask me how one question can have different answers, they stump me but i collect my wits together and say many perspectives can be right at the same time depending from which prism you see it. Now they always talk about the flip side too.

      Shalini di’s ” think, puzzle and explore ,” is a very nice formula to make children rack their brains. Puzzle is meant to confuse them by asking them tricky questions so that they are forced to think in all directions and finally come to a conclusion that’s entirely their own. What a boost it would give their self- confidence.

      And Urvashi di you have always taught us to question to make a change in society. This teachers’ forum helps us do that, grow and think constantly to contribute to our school with effective methods of teaching.

      Anjana and Suparna also have added their valuable suggestions.

  7. Mathematics is certainly a subject that can develop good thinkers, but it needs a lot of planning as it does not always happen by chance. Thinking skills are essential for
    * efficient and creative problem solving
    * communication and reasoning
    * using and applying mathematics

    We poorly remember what we read because we do too very little thinking. According to me, in Mathematics we should think and understand the problem deeply, which means breaking the problem into all possible cases, observing each outcome, comparing one with others. There is a very famous Quote that when learning Mathematics, think and think a lot so that you can produce 10 pages of writing for every one page you read.

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