There is an increasing need for educational processes to be oriented to promote thinking skills in students, that is, to learn to think for themselves, and not so much to accumulate knowledge.
Consequently, if the content over the intellectual maturity of the person predominates in the class, it is easy for students to resort to poor and immature methods that end up being ineffective in the long term, although they may seem sufficient for the moment.
Simon and Bjork (2001) state in a study carried out that a stimulus that momentarily interrupts the practice makes it easier for people to be able to estimate whether they have learned well the skills they have developed (metacognition) and to be able to learn a skill well enough In order to excel in a particular job or activity, training must be structured in a way that ensures long-term learning.
The use of metacognitive skills allows us to obtain the information we need, be aware of our steps during the problem-solving process, and evaluate the productivity of our own thinking.
On the other hand, metacognition is developed in an organism that thinks a lot and is susceptible to making mistakes when it thinks, which is why it needs to have some kind of mechanism that allows it to regulate these errors.
Finally, metacognition allows planning in advance and making informed decisions regarding the life of man in general.
The importance of teaching to think in school
The goal of teaching thinking skills should not be seen as the opposite of teaching conventional content, but as a complement to it.
People often reason in a suboptimal way; therefore, efforts to develop methods to improve thinking skills are important.
The true protagonism of the school has to be directed towards helping the person to think and to teach how to learn.
That is, the teacher has to teach learning strategies and must promote student effort to promote the construction of schemes and facilitate lifelong learning.
Within any teaching, the action is the need to reflect to improve practice and achieve more stimulated students with greater capacities to learn to apprehend in any area of knowledge.
Hence, mastering how not only learning and retention are produced, but also the coding and subsequent retrieval of information in different contexts is one of the tasks that teachers must have clearer in order to improve their methods.
This process of reflection must come from observing what the literature says about the educational practice to promote the use of strategies focused on basic thought processes and metacognition.
Within school settings, educating implies transforming the individual, instructing them in the concepts and values that are handled in the life of his society, and in some way, enabling them to survive optimally.
In the last twenty years, there has been a lot of research in cognitive psychology in which expert execution in different fields has been analyzed.
Based on the convergent results in these works, it can be argued that the main cognitive objective of school learning consists of the acquisition of the four categories of skills that are presented below:
- The flexible application of well-organized, field-specific knowledge that would comprise concepts, rules, principles, formulas, and algorithms.
- Heuristic methods, that is, systematic research strategies for the analysis and transformation of the problem; for example, carefully analyze
- a problem, explaining what is known and what is unknown, subdivide the problem into subgoals, visualize the problem using a diagram or drawing …
- Metacognitive skills that include, on the one hand, knowledge related to one’s own cognitive functioning and, on the other hand, activities that are related to self-control and regulation of one’s own cognitive processes, such as, for example, planning a resolution process and reflecting on your own learning and thinking activities.
- Learning strategies, that is, the activities that the student occupies during learning in order to acquire any of the three types of previous skills.
Currently, there is a large amount of data available showing that children and young people in today’s school education do not acquire all four categories of specified skills. Oftentimes, students only acquire a knowledge of basic concepts that is poor, superficial, and based on repetition.
Thus, they do not master a series of heuristic and metacognitive strategies that can be applied and, often, develop incorrect beliefs about cognitive activities.
The true leadership of the school has to be aimed at helping the person to think, to teach to learn. It has to be fostering in the student their potential for lifelong learning.
On the other hand, genuine development of academic aptitude is not easily achieved without thoughtful and systematic programming that is complemented by direct instruction of learning strategies.
Along these lines, it is worth highlighting the importance of attitudes and values related to learning strategies, taking into account the following aspects:
- Improving the way a student learns means improving the way he thinks about the content that is the object of learning. If we want to obtain good ‘products’, it is essential to identify and optimize the implicit processes, and one of the best ways to do this is to make the student aware of them and to be able to explain them.
- Learning strategies have to be taught based on curricular areas.
- Teaching-learning strategies mean teaching for transfer. Learning involves first transferring what we already know to new information and then the information learned to new problems.
- The teacher does not have to teach the subject, but how to think about the subject to be learned. It is desirable that the student learn to deal with the subject with types of thought related to those that the expert, that is, the teacher, makes use of.
Metacognition has only recently become a focus of research attention, although it remains to be determined how these skills can be taught successfully.
The investigation of metacognition resembles that of problem-solving to lead to the acquisition of some relatively specific skills to improve thinking.
However, metacognition research is also similar to creativity research, in that it suggests the importance of other more global factors, such as the need to make knowledge itself as accessible as possible.
Radhika Bhushan is a founder of SKB little folks, a formidable entity within the space of education in Kanpur has based her life and work on the core belief that brilliance is achieved from a holistic and well-rounded education. She graduated from Lady Irwin College in Child Development and went on to later receive a degree in law from Kanpur University.