Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher, continues to write one of my favorite feeds. On July 17th, she commented on a Google blog article, “Our Googley Advice to Students: Major in Learning.'” Vicki’s response to the Google article was so apt that techLearning had picked it up by July 19th.
All of the above (Google, Cool Cat, and techLearning) pointed to the necessity of teaching students to move beyond routine problem-solving to become successful non-routine problem-solvers. This, of course, requires teachers to push students beyond fact retrieval and point and click education. Analytical reasoning, communication skills, willingness to experiment, the ability to collaborate and be a team player, and passion and leadership are the goals of today’s top flight education for today’s and tomorrow’s business world.
I will probably print a banner with a quotation from the Google article for all of my students who ask why I make them write: “…understanding the available evidence isn’t useful unless you can effectively communicate your conclusions.” No matter where we are–science, math, history, business, medicine, law, gardening, for heaven’s sake–if we can’t communicate our great ideas and solutions to others effectively, that information falls short of its mark.
Another sentence from the Google article that really caught my eye was “But the non-routine problems offer the opportunity to create competitive advantage, and solving those problems requires creative thought and tenacity. Cool Cat Teacher pounced on the same sentence. Engaged learning stimulates (and is stimulated by) creative thought, and any challenge worth the effort requires a good bit of tenacity. Wow. The goals of education and of business really are the same!
I’ve always valued problem-solving, decision-making, and higher critical thinking skills in my classes. I know that 7th graders are a bit wobbly in their emerging abstract thinking skills, but I also know that a little scaffolding and creative empowerment helps those new skills flourish! Learning how to learn and learning how to think are two of my top goals for each of my students. (Small wonder I love Vicki Davis, alias Cool Cat Teacher, so much!)