If “children grow into the intellectual life around them” (L.S. Vygostky), then what kind of intellectual life are we providing to the students in our classrooms and schools? Teachers all over the world have had to accept the compromise of focusing more on delivering prescribed curriculum than developing understanding – test-taking rather than learning.
School reform and improvement efforts often ignore the impact that classroom and school culture play in promoting learning. Any curriculum succeeds or fails depending on the culture of the classroom in which it is enacted. While culture enables us to teach the curriculum, it also shapes us as thinkers and learners. Understanding this process of enculturation holds the key to the creation of the dynamic learning communities we seek.
A culture of thinking is a place where a group’s collective, as well as individual, thinking is valued, visible and actively promoted.
“Cultures of Thinking” classrooms are likely to be more focused on thinking, learning, understanding and collaboration. When classrooms and schools focus on culture, they become places of intellectual stimulation where the focus is not just on improving test scores, but on more deliberately developing young learners who can think, create and question. Learning is largely a social endeavour as opposed to an isolated enterprise. Relationships play a pivotal role in terms of motivation, engagement, and risk-taking.
What were some of your most significant educational experiences? What experiences brought out the best in you and allowed you to reach new heights in learning? How do you respect and value other ideas and thinking in a spirit of collaborative inquiry? This keynote will focus on ways of shaping the interactions in our classrooms and developing an atmosphere of mutual respect and interest that allows a culture of thinking to truly take hold. A focus will be on pressing beyond sit and get, asking good questions, and creating new patterns of discourse.