- Thought and Idea are different things.
- We encourage both in the classroom.
- I’m not sure which I privilege more.
- I’m not sure which I should.
The Whole Story:
Disclaimer: My line of thinking here is protean. Ideally, I’d play with it as a comment somewhere first. As I haven’t run into such a post yet, I’m diving in.
I spent much more time than I thought I would in the last post trying to parse out what I meant or needed from differentiating thought and idea. I think I got there. The final point was where I was headed. And, hey, who doesn’t like finishing writing and finding they’ve called their colleagues hypocrites?
Let me first turn to my own hypocrisy before I start talking practice. I wasn’t playing for a while there. It’s a shame really, because Mrs. Cavitt made a point in kindergarten of stating I play well with others . Right now, my play is commenting. I figure if the minds I admire are bringing their toys to the table, I might as well play. Down the road, we’ll see what ideas spring from it. For now, I’m making time to play.
As for my classroom:
I’d be hard pressed to find a day when I don’t directly ask my students to think. I’d be hard pressed to find a day when I don’t directly ask my students to come up with ideas. I do these things as a matter of habit. I’d imagine any teacher does.
But, do I mean it?
When I ask a student to think, I think I do mean it. I want them looking for patterns, connections, variables, ideas. I want them thinking. The world needs them thinking. When they watch television, I want them thinking. When they’re at the movies, walking down the street, riding the trolley – I want them thinking. I want them to think as often as possible. When I ask it, I mean it.
My aims with ideas are squishier. I ask for ideas. “What ideas do you have?” I’ll ask. Some days, ideas are in season and falling from the sky. Some days, not.
When the ideas don’t come, what do I do? Usually, I talk. Sometimes, it’s a statement. Sometimes, it’s a question. Rarely, is it anything that looks like asking them to play with their thoughts until ideas happen.
What message is this sending? Honestly.
If I’m asking for ideas and they don’t come, shouldn’t I be asking them to play?
“Teaching them to think,” pops up more likely than I’d like in my reading online. Aside from being asininely presumptuous, it sounds dangerous. They know how to think. Sure, maybe some of my students don’t think as deeply or complexly as I’d hope for them, but they’re thinking. I don’t need to teach them to think, I need to give them space to think. I need them to have space to play with thoughts, put them together and make ideas.
I don’t know that I let that happen as much as I’d like. The feeling that they could do that much more if I made sure they had this tool or experience with this line of thinking leads me down the path of profering too much.
I end up the parent whose child has 1 million toys but is sitting playing with the cardboard box in which the last toy arrived.
The project my G11 students are working on now has taken a turn toward play. I’m working on making the necessary adjustments for my G12 kids.
I should be privileging ideas as much as I’m privileging thinking.