Isn’t it fascinating how there is more reading material and alternative viewpoints available to students, teachers, administrators, and society in general today than any other time period in the history of the world yet we continue to perpetuate a system of compliance and uniformity instead of questioning and original thought?
Aaron Eyler’s point is good and the late night brain dump was coherent to me. Taxonomies like Bloom’s continue to shape my paradigm of learning and so does Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Higher order thinking like synthesis is the goal. I understand it to come through the other thinking processes: remember, describe, apply, analyse, and evaluate. It is critical that we continue to attend to these cognitive processes as well. One can do any of these things imperfectly. I think we see this in some of the misguided educational reform plans being presented today. If educational policy makers can synthesize on an imperfect understanding or poor analysis of the extreme problem of education, then our fourth and fifth graders can create something new with their imperfect understanding of culture or physics. The new information that results should be subjected to further critical reflection.
I don’t think we should diminish the prior thinking processes in young people. I am not creating new knowledge with this argument, not was Aaron in his thoughts above. I think we are taking ownership of these ideas and making them authentic in our own lived experience as educators. Helping young people create their own personal understanding, analysis and evaluation of the world likely remains more critical than a genuine synthesis of knowledge. I see synectics and synthesis in my classroom all the time. Rarely is it new, but it is new to my students. They own the ideas. Mostly, students strive to apply the ideas and analyse and evaluate the result within the context of their own experience. It might be difficult for an elementary student to synthesize new knowledge about the Canadian fur trade or today’s global economy. They might be able to see a connection between the two and a way each connects to their own life. Those connections are what we want them to see as the purpose of their reflection. Perhaps this is what Aaron Eyler was suggesting and I am distracted by my understanding of the word synthesis.