Helping Students Prepare for the Future
Early in their school careers, students learn that the teacher has the “right” answers to questions asked in the classroom. Successful students learn that their “job” is to try to figure out that “right” answer and to provide it for the teacher.
Students who are able to do this quickly and accurately are perceived as brighter and are rewarded with higher grades and more positive feedback. Students who have difficulty in perceiving the answer the teacher is seeking may well be viewed as less competent and are less tolerated. In far too many classrooms, teachers do not require students to think deeply or move beyond the basic knowledge and comprehension level.
“Another issue that has limited the depth of thinking and learning in American classrooms is that our ever-expanding curriculum has been “a mile wide and an inch deep.”
Traditional classrooms have emphasized facts and rote information at the expense of requiring students to apply higher-order thinking activities. As knowledge in the world continues to explode at exponential levels, this is no longer practical. Instead, students must be able to manage information and apply the appropriate level of sophistication needed to think deeply and process complex problems.
To solve problems in real-world situations, students must be able to apply knowledge and use thinking strategies to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. In the real world, answers are seldom black and white, and there are often many solutions to a problem. Preparing students with only surface-level knowledge does not lead to “deep thinking,” to intellectual independence, or to building a student's capacity to problem solve and analyze complex situations in the real world. Requiring students to think and process information at much deeper levels prepares them for the real role they will face in life and in tomorrow's workplace.