Thinking like a child – it may be exactly what we adults need! #21C

So, I just watched a newly posted TED talk by Alison Gopnik: What do babies think?

Throughout the talk, I was fascinated by the experimentation that she implemented in order to test her hypotheses about baby cognition. Looking at the totality of her results, Gopnik posits that babies can decipher what others are thinking, that babies think more like a lantern than a spotlight, and that babies naturally experiment and hypothesize and prototype to test their understanding of the world.

Listening to Gopnik, I found connection with her talk and Tom Wujec’s Marshmallow Challenge – the key to building better things is experimenting, failing, and prototyping improvements. It turns out that kindergarteners are really quite good at this reiterative learning.

Additionally, I was reminded of Steven Johnson’s The Innovator’s Cookbook, in which he encourages us to “get a little lost” and “play each other’s instruments.” By placing ourselves in novel situations, we can deliberately disorient ourselves and return to our “baby brains.” When we are young, we are all artists, inventors, astronauts, and aliens! Unfortunately, too many of us unlearn these perceptions about ourselves.

We have a great many transitions and transformations to make in school and the ways in which school is structured. I believe our world demands us to re-imagine “school.” Just today, one of the student-learners in Synergy 8 posted this pondering on our group Posterous:

How much in school has changed since the 1800’s?

Posted by  josephka to Synergy-8-2011-12-S1
Even with computers and smart boards not much has changed since the 19th centruy, but why not? the world has changed so much. People don’t have tha same jobs that they would have had 200 years ago. Maybe the system should be changed.

Another Synergy 8 team member commented back:

sumterf just commented on the post “How much in school has changed since the 1800’s?” on Synergy-8-2011-12-S1

I think if someone came to the future from the 1800s, they would recognize that our science, math, english, and language classes are school, but they probably would not recognize Synergy class as school.

And even if you don’t believe that school could stand a makeover, then perhaps you could allow that school should at least be re-examined…re-explored. To stand still is to grow stagnant and to ignore current research and learning from emerging best practices. Let’s employ the scientific method to our own structure…let’s play with ideas and possibilities like a child plays and integrates imagination with future possibility for reality. Let’s tap the butterflys that are our children and learn to flutter from their capacities and potential for creation and reiterative examination of enhancing prototypes. Let’s DO DIFFERENT…to discover and improve our current attempts.

Here’s to playing, to thinking more like a lantern, to trying another’s instrument, to disorienting ourselves, to wanting to know what others might be thinking. Here’s to not yet knowing that math, science, English, and history will be taught separately and from the vantage point of a individual desk and chair.

It’s not about convenience nor convention. It’s about learning!

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