Are we teaching our children to fish? ‘How’ we learn is far more important than ‘what’ we learn
It’s not what children are learning, but how they are learning that is of most importance, argues Meaghan Allen, Primary Teacher at The British School of Barcelona in Spain. It’s called metacognition and is a key area of interest for Cognita as a global group.
An abundance of evidence from around the world strongly suggests that the key to improving a child’s motivation and ability to become an independent learner is to employ effective metacognitive strategies. These strategies will help them transfer the knowledge they acquire to a variety of different situations and allow children to see the ‘big picture’.
What is Metacognition?
Metacognition is simply described as the act of thinking about thinking. It is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought process. Through this simple concept, children will be able to acquire, retain and transfer new content, while becoming confident and self-aware learners.
What does it look like in a classroom setting?
The skills of metacognition are taught by asking children the right questions. Questions that require them to call upon their previous knowledge and assess what they already know. This encourages children to be involved in the process of their own learning by identifying a starting point and stimulating curiosity.
If children are simply given information and asked to apply it, they are not required to call upon critical thinking skills, which are supremely important when they are trying to discover who they are as learners.
Once children’s curiosity is engaged, and they have a starting point to reflect upon, teachers must stress the importance of continuous reflection. This can be accomplished by asking them questions about their learning, during, or at the end of the lesson, while celebrating the identification of errors. By asking children what they found challenging in a lesson, they are required to review the lesson and pinpoint a specific area of their learning. The teacher can then ask the children to explain how they overcame this adversity and praise them for the learning that has taken place.
Putting it into practice
Teaching children the skills to tackle problems, while building inquisitive minds lies at the heart of creating the leaders of the future. By equipping the students with nets, and teaching them to fish, you give them the opportunity to become, creative, reflective, life-long learners.
You can read this article in Spanish on the Ser Padres website: Cómo educar para que sean creativos, reflexivos y capaces de aprender durante toda su vida