Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Great Minds Think Differently

All minds think.  Unfortunately, our current educational system is encouraging convergent thinking. This type of thinking in and of itself is not a bad thing. But neither is it something to celebrate just because it makes us comfortable.
Listen to questions teachers ask. Some teacher responses are fairly blatant.   "No that is not what I was thinking" says the teacher who doesn't just want convergent thinking but mind reading as well.  Or the teacher who asks what a character in a book might be thinking and then "guides" the students until they come up with the "right " answer. Unless the author has told the reader what a character is thinking the answer to the question should be wide open as long as it fits with the story. But unfortunately many teachers do not see the situation that way. It is not at all unusual for teachers to ask what appears to be an open ended essay question but the teacher has already "taught" the answer and expects the student to repeat in narrative format. So there still has not been any divergent thinking.
How often have you heard a teacher ask a social studies class "how do you think this war could have been averted?"  And then accept all answers that are on point. Or ask a math class if a student can come up with another way to solve the problem other than the traditional one.
Many people think differently. This situation is particularly true of some people with disabilities particularly those on the autism spectrum.  These individuals often have a unique perspective on the world to which we should listen. All great advancements have been made by people who see the world differently. These are people who know if we expect different results we need to behave differently.
We expect today's students to create a better world. It is the expectation we have always had for all students. They cannot be expected to fulfill that expectation unless we not only encourage but reward thinking differently.
The impossible becomes possible only when we think differently and expect the possible.  

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