Monthly Archives: May 2016

PFP#9: PFC vs Limbic System

 

Below, there is a nice chart named 50 ways to think creatively. As I did loved most of them, and am willing to integrate them to my teaching practice, I am also considering in which phase of the education we should promote them as the educators? Ugur Mumcu, a journalist from Turkey, argues that “An idea is not possible without proper knowledge”. Also Bloom’s taxonomy puts CREATE cluster at the top stage of the learning process.. Thus, to the later phases?

It is so very interesting that, prefrontal cortex (responsible for cognitive processes, knowledge, morality etc) is the part of of the brain which develops the last (and may be the least), as opposed to the limbic systems (responsible for emotions, and creativity as well). And we argue that the education should target the PFC development first, and then should promote limbic system activation.. We are all about balance, ha <3

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PFP#8: Critical Thinking vs Synthesizing Thinking

 

As the social science instructors, we have been discussing on the value of critical thinking. In my classroom, I am using the resources from the website http://www.criticalthinking.org in order to describe what critical thinking is and how it helps and how it can be improved.

There are various methods to improve critical thinking, and to my experience of teaching for more than 2 years, providing an anti-thesis for a given thesis is not the most difficult part of the “effective thinking skills” . What I would like my students to work more on is the synthesizing thinking skills, which I define as combining the theses and anti-theses, and coming up with a synthesized understanding, which is open to the anti-theses and thus, to further development.

Although synthesis is considered as a part of the critical thinking skills, I am not sure they refer to the same constructs. In a lot of the cases, while asking for critical thinking capacities, we are asking the students to come up well-grounded counter-arguments, and we value counter-arguments, and the conversation usually end up there. I believe, it is better to encourage syntesis approach in education. Asking the students to come up with new questions, new definitions, and new understandings of the phenomenons..

 

 

PFP#7: Education Systems in Dfferent Countries

 

The discussion on the education systems on different countries were very inspiring and intriguing to me, creating a sudden AHA moment to many of my struggles with regard to teaching in the US context. I learned that many countries like China, Taiwan, besides Turkey,, are primarily using the public school system, with standard examinations.

One take away from the ONE exam format, determining which area of study the student is going to follow (which indirectly determines, the career path of the individual as well), I got is, although it seems like a “One Shot” or a “Risk”, it seems to create a sense of determination from early on, and eliminates many socioeconomic factors that influence the career path of the individuals. That is, no matter what your SES level is, if you can not have a high score in that particular exam, you are basically choosing a moderate path. It is based on success, determination, dedication, and performance.

However, in the private school based contexts, the path seems to be more freedom based, but behind the curtains, it is much more risky and unfair. The promoted social structure is more likely to “preserve” the existing ones, and overall making the rich richer and the poor poorer across the generations.

All these makes me question the “freedom” in the so-called liberal contexts? To what extent we are “free” to choose? What are the determinants of our choices, with regard to educational opportunities? Something to consider..

PFP#6: Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs in Education

So, I will write my remaining blog posts on some tips and techniques on teaching.

First, many of the education improvement researchers argue that, structuring the class on the basis of Bloom’s taxonomy verbs helps the students to benefit most.

Bloom’s taxonomy verbs are grouped in 6 groups, as seen at the image below:

Bloomtaxonomy

In the classroom context, according to the the book named Assessing Critical Thinking in Middle and High Schools, the Bloom’s Taxonomy can be used in a variety of creative ways. I will provide some examples for the college context.

the REMEMBER verbs can be used in the form of memorizing the information, in the form of multiple choice and true false exam questions and class activities.

The UNDERSTAND cluster can be used in the form of activities asking the individuals to describe the key components and characteristics of particular processes. For instance, asking the students to describe how the ecological system works.

The APPLY cluster can be used in the form of activities like asking the students to build a structure, or carry a conversation by the means of using specific rules and instructions. For instance, the students can be introduced to the five effective components of effective communication, and can be asked them to practice these components in one-to-one interactions.

The ANALYZE cluster can be used in the form of activities, encouraging the students to analyze (as it sounds) a specific situation or condition. For instance, the students can be asked to analyze the sociopolitical context during the World War I period, by focusing on the socioeconomic factors influencing the relationships between the countries.

The EVALUATE cluster can be used by asking the students to evaluate a given situation based on specific criteria. For instance, the students can be given a particular observational treatment integrity rating scale of a particular treatment style, and asked to evaluate a therapy session effectiveness.

And lastly, the CREATE cluster can be used by encouraging the students to organize the information in a specific way. For instance, the students can be given some instructions, like building a group and asked to use specific information in their creation.

The CREATE cluster is considered the peak of  learning process, as it encourages independent, creative, and critical thinking. Developing a class based on these principles would be very helpful.

 

PFP #5: Inclusiveness

I think most of the non-inclusiveness comes from just lack of experience and fear. Fear of all sorts, but basically fear of unfamiliar. Difference is just anxiety provoking and it is innate. And all we are just experiencing this uncanny feeling when we confront with an unfamiliarity. Many research also support this hypothesis, including the well known harvard implicit racism test that can be found here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ , which reflects that racism (and other non-inclusive attitudes) are strongly correlated with unfamiliarity and fear.

Freud describes the fear of unfamiliar with the term “unheimlich” that can be translated as uncanny, and Lacan sets the uncanniness, the anxiety at the core of human existence. As does the various philosophers including Heidegger, Husserl, and Sartre. So, I think, before heating the discussions with divisions, we need to sit and listen the other being (whether s/he is inclusive or not, or familiar to us or not). Since we are all humans, eventually the familiarity will reveal itself, that will soothe the anxiety.

In this regard, I do think that the strongest tool to promote inclusiveness as a mean to reach the best versions of ourselves and help people do/be their best is to work on the principle of familiarity. Neurologically speaking, without including limbic system (aka emotions), and just focusing the prefrontal cortex (aka thoughts), we can not create effective learning. Learning happens when the brain is involved in the process as a whole. Thus, rather than setting signages for human zoos, we can invite and welcome the personal stories and highlight the similarities, rather than getting lost in the rabbit holes of differences. Here is an amazingly wonderful speech by Chimamanda Ngozi, named The Danger of Single Story, showing how the prefrontal cortex focused training induced educated-blindness effects the relationships and providing some delicate insights on how similar we humans actually are, enjoy if you did not before.