Friday, September 23, 2005
Breakthrough Thinking for Kids: It ain't sexy
I think that the concept of breakthrough thinking underlies much of what education theorists think of as "sexy." Now, Samsung has definitely created an environment that facilitates innovation but they have also now skimped on the other necessary components - intelligence and knowledge... It's not that "sexy" to work on fundamentals and to acknowledge that brighter people comprehend concepts more quickly and can extend the concepts in novel ways.
Before LO can be creative, in a useful way, he needs to understand the prior art and then he'll be properly positioned to extend it. He doesn't need to independently discover how to calculate the area of a circle - he simply needs to understand the concept.
I completely agree with you that innovation is of no use without the fundamentals. I get it. What I am saying is to bring your child to the next level of thinking, it's NOT a linear process, and tends not to happen in the 30-45 minute class.
Breakthrough Thinking Example: Here's the best kids Breakthrough Thinking example I can think of: it's like learning a language. You're dropped into a whole new culture, where everyone is speaking a different language. You learn a few words, but certainly CANNOT express yourself. Slowly you learn a few more words, and a few more. You still CANNOT express yourself. You get frustrated because your language ability doesn't seem to be progressing. Still you are immersed in the language. And you still are learning - vocabulary, phrases, you may understand a little bit more. One day, out of nowhere it seems, (maybe it's three or six months later) you have a conversation and realize you can express yourself, you are conversant. It's a breakthrough! It's not sexy, you didn't miss the fundamentals, but your learning was NOT about just sitting in a classroom for an hour every day for years. You were IMMERSED in the language. (Sound familiar Katya?) What I'm talking about in this case is 'literary immersion.' We take for granted the capacity of kids to grasp pretty complex ideas.
In the blog I talk about simply understanding The Hobbit. It's not a sexy idea, but- for a four year old - heady literature that he CAN appreciate if I follow this sort of immersion principle I described. Eventually, he can make pretty big leaps, what I'll call a 'breakthrough.' That's what I mean.
Tomorrow, I'll feature someone else's example. It will be a math example.
Chinese Class Update: Remember I said the teacher in LO's class was loud and STRICT! There are about 16 kids in the class ranging from about 4-7. Until next week, it's a 2 1/2 hour class (7-9:30pm). Next week, the language portion will be 2 hours with a 10-15 minute break. Many of these kids have been up since 6 or 6:30 am. They are tired, and some are plain fidgety (they ARE kids after all). In some ways, this teacher is really exceptional. She has lots of clever ways to keep them engaged. Anyway, the teacher HAS singled out a few of the kids and yelled. "If you are not putting your feet down UNDER the chair then you are WASTING MY TIME!" Maybe you should just go home. I'm not describing it well here, but some kids have been shamed and if she did that stuff to LO, I'd be mad. (But I know I have to sit DIRECTLY behind him and coach him the whole time.) Well, the parents today (mostly Asian- except two, me and a white mother who adopted two Chinese girls) decided to meet with the teacher in the third period. The white mother said she just wasn't coming. Then another mother pulled me aside and wanted to know if I "had her back" in the meeting. I wanted to say you MUST be CRAZY, but settled for "I don't think it is a good idea for me to be a spokesperson." In the end, the teacher was so mad to be caught off guard like that, she almost cried, but it looked like she instead chose to be mad and walked out. The one Chinese mother from mainland China had No problem with the teaching style. She thought her daughter wasn't disciplined enough and needed someone to get her attention and behave. So we'll see. Next week, we may have the same teacher, we may not. Stay tuned...