Metacognition: Thinking About Thinking

All through the month of June, Edu-Cat-Ion will feature some selected videos on systems thinking.  Einstein is credited with saying that we can’t solve the problems of today with the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.  The thinking we’ve been using to solve problems originated with the scientific method, and that’s linear thinking.  There’s also a third type of thinking, which is process thinking, driven by if/then circumstances.  It’s a combination of linear thinking and systems thinking.

For today’s article, this video presents the elements involved with thinking, and how they act as a system.  It’s a realization that must be made if we are going to solve the problems plaguing education today.

Why can’t we solve the problems we’re facing in education today with yesterday’s thinking?  It’s been thought that in order to improve education, we need to decrease class sizes.  When that didn’t work, it was thought that teachers aren’t paid enough, and higher salaries would attract better qualified teachers.  When that didn’t work, it was thought that teachers need more rigorous training.  When that didn’t work, it was thought that students need more rigorous testing.  When that didn’t work, it was thought the STEM was the answer.  Now, since STEM has become STEAM which has become STREAM (which, should really be STREAMS to include the social sciences, and, voila!, you have what every student experiences in their daily classroom routine.  That’s ALSO a system in action, which is another topic for another week), educational leaders are looking toward collaboration among teachers…which is a great methodology to investigate.  However, since most educational leaders won’t scrap the current “siloed” approach to lesson planning, this new avenue will also lead to a dead end.

Note how all theses things are thought of as a isolated solutions.  They’ve all never been put on the table at the same time, with the blueprint that says, “If we try option X, and it doesn’t work, then we’ll try option Y; if no desired result occurs, then we’ll try option Z.”  That’s an example of process thinking.

Systems thinking would involved doing them all to some degree, simultaneously, rather than taking an “all in” approach to each proffered solution.

This video shows how elements within the system function simultaneously, and how realizing this can help us recognize how to truly solve problems – or, at least, begin to reach our goal of improving education, especially in these unprecedented times.