Thursday, March 24, 2016

It's All in the Way We Think


     I recently saw an Abbott and Costello gig about math. Hilarious as it was, it got me thinking about the way students look at things. Sometimes their approach isn't my approach. Actually, often times it's not. But does that mean their approach is wrong? Not really. I'd say my adamant insistence that they interpret literature the way I want them to is wrong. It's interpretation. Do I see a use of logic? Are they analyzing? If their interpretation is different than mine, are they wrong?
      Thinking back to my college days, I know I was usually the odd person out when it came to agreeing with the professor's take on a piece of literature. I'm going to take hits for this, but when we discussed the book The Great Gatsby, I told the prof it was a banal, trite work that was boring. The only voice of truth in my Am. Lit class, at least in my opinion (I still haven't come around on that novel). Students were aghast that I spoke what I'm sure many of them felt. The professor was astound I could be of that opinion. In hindsight I realize in most of my lit classes I often countered popular opinions with my own. But I always had a logical reason and a basis for my view.
      If my students disagree with me, is that wrong? Actually, I encourage that way of thinking. I don't want a bunch of milk cows following the leader into the barn every day at 4:00. I want free thinkers who analyze on their own.
      Now granted, literature is not finite like math. And in math there are absolutes. But most of life isn't that way. Most of life requires us to process information and come to a logical and reasonable conclusion. Not always my conclusion.
       If we want to encourage critical thinking, let's not squash thinking that doesn't mirror our own. Not everyone processes or looks at things the same way we do. Should students be discouraged from alternative thinking? Or is this something we as teachers need to encourage? Even help develop?
      It's all in the way we think. Some see 7 x 13 as 28 and others don't. Next time your students use logic and reason to come to their own conclusion and not yours, don't discourage it. Maybe you'll learn a thing or two. It could make all the difference.

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