December 3, 2023

12 questions to help students see themselves as thinkers

go through Terrell Heck

Editor’s Note: This article is not compatible with our Self-directed learning mode.

Why would anyone want to study?

And Paulo Freire, john deweyand others make convincing arguments for the goals of education that learning and education are not the same thing. A simple overarching goal of learning, as opposed to education, might be for each learner to understand “how to do a good job in their place”.

Learning—here defined as the overall effect of progressively acquiring, synthesizing, and applying information—changes beliefs. Consciousness leads to thoughts, thoughts lead to emotions, and emotions lead to actions. Thus, learning brings about personal and social change through self-knowledge and healthy interdependence. In fact, this may be the truest and most verbal definition of modern learning: intimate, self-directed learning experiences that serve authentic physical and digital communities, ultimately leading to personal and social change.

12 questions to help students see themselves as thinkers

Self-knowledge is formed through a series of metacognition and basic epistemology.

1. What do I know?

2. What am I curious about?

3. What questions and answers did people before me ask?

4. What do people around me need from me?

5. What do I need from them?

6. What is worth understanding?

7. What is the difference between awareness, knowledge and understanding?

8. What are the limits of knowledge?

9. How does uncertainty affect me as a thinker?

10. What does one “do” with knowledge?

11. What does my community—however I define it—require of me, and what do I want from it?

12. Why study?

don't limit kids

Globalization and Citizenship

Authentic self-knowledge and responsible local placement foster healthy communities that solve problems and resonate globally. But what does this mean for the learner (the individual that any learning process, platform or program should focus on)?

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Given the modernization of information in many parts of the world, how should the teacher’s role change? (How is information different from knowledge?)

How can education keep pace with technological change? What are the consequences of not doing so?

Since globalization is, First and foremost, In terms of local citizenship, one question must be considered: where does citizenship begin?

Essayist and social commentator Wendell Berry has been grappling with big questions about the intersection of the individual, society, business, and technology for years. Berry warned that “a refined, discriminating knowledge of the place by local people is essential if we wish to apply intelligence to local problems with the utmost sensitivity, if we wish to do our best work.”

One interpretation of this idea invokes the concept of scale. In fact, most application challenges (in this case, learning) boil down to scale challenges. This means, then, that one can design “scalable” classes by starting and ending with local “selves” etc.

Perhaps the goal of all learning should be self-knowledge rather than extrinsic content knowledge, the themes of identity and purpose, and then connectivism and interdependence, ultimately leading to self-directed thinkers concerned with their connections to others and the consequences of their ‘cognitive behavior’.

This “self-care” is distinct in tone and purpose from externally directed, measured, and motivated performance. But the reorientation of the purpose of learning is not just about motivation or classroom efforts “to put the learner at the center,” but about reorienting the entire learning process.

Taken individually, this is a small shift, but on a macro level, this kind of thinking can lead to innovative, “different” thinking in new types of learners who simply solve problems, correct conflicts, or create Art.

Masterpieces are rarely created under compulsion.