Monday, March 11, 2013

Teenagers and abstract thinking

Teenagers develop abstract thinking at different times.  Makes sense:  they don't all have a physical growth spurt at the same time, why should they have a cognitive growth sprurt simultaneously?

Most teachers don't accommodate this differential.

What might that look like? (from Shawn Cornally's blog Brain-based learning):

If we don't know what rung our students are on, it's very difficult to say which of the following two questions we should ask:
  1. How are gas prices affected by unrest in the various oil-producing regions of the world?
  2. How were gas prices affected during the Arab Spring in Egypt?
As a teacher, I like Question 1 better. It seems more open. It seems more, well, abstract. And to that student who has reached that rung on the ladder, he or she will be able to shine. Most teenagers can only be led there through Question 2 or something like it.

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