Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Developing the Disciplined Mind
As parents we can help our children develop disciplined minds by identifying the gifts of the children, modeling the way of thinking and behaviour, urging them to complete a signature assignment and by providing them with useful feedback. If you child is good in language, it will mean firstly to affirm the child in your belief ("I see you are very good in English"). The child must also see you set an example in the pursuit of excellence in a area of your choice. A signature assignment may mean setting a goal for the child - e.g to write a set of stories and publish it in a school journal or on the net. The feedback has to be non-judgemental, supportive and helpful.
Gardner believes that by the time a student reaches college he or she must have mastered the major disciplines of science, mathematics, history, one art form (drawing, music, acting etc). These disciplines are gateways to a range of other disciplines. Without mastering the gateway disciplines, we become dependent on others to make decisions of life or hold viewpoints on important issues- e.g health, politics or economics.
I my last psot had discussed about the five minds of the 21st century postulated by Howard Gardner.
Here are some guidelines to develop the Disciplined Mind, the first of the five minds.
1. Whatever subject the child is studying, ensure that you identify the truly important topics or concepts
2. Spend a lot of time on these important topics and use a variety of examples to explore the topic.
3. Any lesson is likely to be understood when approached from a variety of entry points. Stories, logic, debate, humour, role play, videos, graphics, computer presentations and even linking to behaviours and attitudes. A diverse approach to think about a concept demonstrates genuine understanding and vice versa.
4. Ensure that there is real evidence to show understanding by testing or assessing what has been learnt. When we examine children by exposing them to questions which they have not encountered before, we test their real understanding. We can be sure that they can use the knowledge they have acquired only when we test them in unfamiliar situations.
So the next time, you feel content when your child has completed the syllabus and answered all the questions in the book correctly, think again.If your school is not challenging the child, you must step in as a parent and try out new ways to approach the topic or test the understanding. On the contrary, if the school is stepping out of the syllabus then do not pressurize teachers to stay within the syllabus all the time. Enjoy the situation when your child gets surprised in a exam and do not rush to defend or rescue him.
The Discipline of Memorization - Is the Indian Tradition of Rote Still Important?
Some may argue that that that ability to think diversely is all very good, but without knowledge of facts and figures, we can't really use the ability of disciplined mind. It is true that we must respect the people who know a lot of facts. However it is also true in the hyper connected world of internet enabled devices, access to facts is almost equal to everybody. So memorization as a skill becomes less useful.
However it is still good to enjoy the memorization of a speech or a poem, or a mathematical table, for its own satisfaction and not under the pressure of performance.
The Other Type of Discipline
The concept of discipline as the imposition of rules and conformance is not to be confused with the disciplined mind. It remains fairly controversial whether stressing on importance of daily drill, study, practice and more homework really leads to creating a useful ability in the child. Psychologists have furnished enough evidence that it leads to no real good in the primary years, yet schools and parents diligently pursue this approach
In the future we need more of the internalized sense of self-discipline, not the ritualized discipline of two hours of homework every day. The disciplined mind develops the realization that one has to be a life long student and truly enjoys the process of learning. The disciplined mind does not fatigue or wear out and remains curious and enthusiastic about creating life long habits that allow one to make steady progress towards mastery of a subject, craft, art or profession.