Friday, April 15, 2011
Encouraging Individual Thought
Observing children make their own discoveries is rewarding to watch. That light bulb moment, when a child says "Ahaaaaaaa!" as they experience discovery can be satisfying to both teacher-parent and child. A child who has learned to think for himself or herself can derive a great sense of accomplishment, as can their parent who has guided them through the steps to learning to think on their own. Encouraging individual thought is an important part of teaching a child to think and reason. Although reflection and rote learning has its place, the ability to evaluate is a more complex intellectual ability and should be encouraged as a goal in the process of educating the whole child.
Here are some suggestions which encourage individual thought:
* Show genuine interest in the child, encouraging their contribution to a topic. It's important not only for bright children, but those who are slower than their peers as well.
* Be patient. In our busy world, it's not often that people take time to really listen. In your role as teacher-parent, you have the opportunity to offer them the opportunity to think their own thoughts. Encourage them to share those thoughts and discuss with them.
* Persist gently. Sometimes children may hesitate to share their thoughts because they are fearful of appearing ignorant or foolish. By asking probing questions and inquiring about how they think, their fear can be overcome and they can be encouraged to verbalize their thoughts.
* Set an example. Be willing to risk and show your own vulnerability in the learning process. Be real in sharing your thoughts.
* Avoid humor at the expense of the student. Instead encourage and affirm.
* Keep an open mind. It's possible that you might learn something from your child. Cautious skepticism is alright if it is coupled with respect of the rights who may choose to disagree with you.
* Remember that we have the right to search for answers that satisfy us. God gives children this same right. A parent's role isn't to indoctrinate and brainwash, but rather to teach and inculcate principles by example and thoughtful guidance.
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