Three Key Principles for Building A Psychology-Based Theory of Everything in the Classroom
Most of us now know early math does not fit neatly into the traditional week-long format of learning it. The truth is, we teach kids early math too well, and other important elementary-level content has been sidelined. Ironically, our most advanced state curricula ignore conceptual concepts and pre-instructional tools that both engage students and cultivate critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed for the workforce of the future. Today, we need less reading and math instruction, not more.
Recent studies reveal many elementary school-aged children lack conceptual knowledge of math problems in relation to different environments, forcing children to jump straight into the problem solving. The same problem is playing out in high school mathematics classes, a travesty for all concerned. There is a disconnect between what we teach kids in the classroom and what we need to teach kids in the workplace. The very best teachers know when to teach your students a conceptual problem that is palatable and difficult and need not be incorporated in a traditional format.
We need more educational discussions and experiences that celebrate spatial thinking. Here’s what the ground rules should be.
1. Speak Points of View
We currently rely on labels that tell kids what they can and cannot do to solve problems. We need to stop labeling and begin focusing on explaining how the world works and what points of view matter, in detail. Point of view helps children understand concepts such as Order of Numbers or fluid mathematical variables.
It is so important to expose kids to different perspectives. This could take the form of challenging kids to look at the evidence for a conceptual model that is popular among a certain group of people. Developing an interest in the models helps build curiosity about other views. While it might make sense to build a numerically large test question in order to wow some peer group, the point of view of the minority view can be very different from the majority view. Questions surrounding geopolitics can look very different from questions surrounding physical science. Developing curiosity about the languages of ideas can help students see how their own and others may come to some concept.
2. Build A Theoretical Base
We need to do more to build a theoretical base. If you build a solid physical structure, can you live in it? Can you step on a landing pad? Can you pick up and use your cellphone while in a shelter during a storm? Can you expand the base to fit for more people?
This idea has long been called “Theory of Everything.”
Some examples of such conceptual thinking are the Big Bang theory, working muscles, and copula– the square of the left and right sides of the multidimensional body. As science progresses, more are introduced, more finite ground rules are established. Who said certainty cannot be built? Doomsayers perhaps, but we have all accepted their position when it is plausible to predict– like that human beings will soon be running cities. A few weeks ago, Harvey Miller, a professor of physics at Rutgers University, held forth during a TED talk entitled, “The Understanding is Unavoidable.” He described how we constantly face existential problems and how he had deduced one solved the world’s problems.
3. See Design And Problem-Solving
One compelling example is Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, a story about learning how to be thoughtful about design and problem-solving. The windmill proposed in Walden was an inspiring design; each of the 12 species of plants he came upon while walking the woods was from the natural world in the same way each of the animals in his house was native to it. This is a new way of thinking about how to design educational materials, let alone high school classes.
Building a metaphysical foundation that points to a lot of movement helps children develop a logical and concrete thinking process– the trait parents really want their children to develop.