Dr. Iris Oved
This is (in the process of becoming) a non-profit organization associated with the University of Arizona’s Cognitive Science Program.
The aim is to share with children the intrinsic joys of inquiry and discovery through rigorous play, and to nurture their development of higher-level thinking skills, allowing them to become self-determined members of their communities.
The Center Uses a 3-Part Technique:
- Metacognition-Thinking about thinking. What are your thinking styles? What kinds of problems do you find enjoyable and what kinds do you find agonizing? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How can you harness your strengths and improve on your weaknesses?
- Collaboration-Students learn together; teacher facilitates rather than ‘teaches’.-Real-world problem-solving occurs in groups.
-Groups allow us to be more comfortable with uncertainty.
-A diversity of thinkers allows for the recognition and filling of blind-spots.
- Play as Self-Directed, Active Learning-Inspired by work of UC Berkeley Developmental Psychologist Alison Gopnik (and others).-Children, and even infants, are naturally more like scientists than rote learners – their play is driven by curiosity and they carefully formulate and test hypotheses about the world. -Gopnik suggests that it’s not even that children are like little scientists, but that scientists are like big children. [Gopnik's 2011 TED talk: http://blog.ted.com/2011/10/10/what-are-babies-really-thinking-alison-gopnik-on-ted-com/]
The Center Will Soon Offer 6 Programs: [Programs (1) through (3) are fully prepared at present]
- Philosophical Inquiry-Inspired by the Philosophy for Children Movement, starting in 1970 by Matthew Lipman with children’s book Harry Stottlemeier’s Discoveryand continuing around the world today.-Children receive a stimulus (a part of a story, a video, a picture…), and then they generate their own questions and vote on one to be discussed in the group. Each child labels her contribution to the discussion: hypothesis, supporting- or counter- example,agree/disagree with another student, provide an argument, make a distinction, request/give a clarification.
-The teacher facilitates the inquiry but does not contribute to the content.
-Thumb-gauge at the end (thumbs down through thumbs up) for how good was the group’s listening, respect for each other, respect for the inquiry, progress on the question, etc.
- Cognitive Illusions and Biases-Perceptual Illusions: vision, touch, hearing, taste/smell, cross-modal illusions.-Illusions of Thought: probability, confirmation bias, availability bias, memory biases.
-Illusions of Action/Choice: e.g.,when two identical items are placed side by side, people tend to choose the one on the right, and then confabulate reasons that it is the preferred item.
-Reasoning Fallacies: spot and avoid ad hominem, question-begging,appeal to authority…
- The Art of Scientific Discovery-Inspired by Molecular and Cellular Biology Professor Herman Gordon’s NSF-funded course at the University of Arizona.-Through puzzles and games, students learn the art of discovery –patterns, regularities, and generalizable tools in math and science.
-This is unlike a typical science class, in which the instructor feeds scientific discoveries to students to memorize, or leads the children through a classic experiment.
-This is unlike a typical math class in which students receive elegant equations that are the result of mathematicians’ play and discovery. [See Paul Lockhart's “A Mathematician's Lament http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf]
-Students learn how to think like a scientist or mathematician, making their own observations, generating their own questions, and making their own original discoveries (albeit ones that have been found, just as originally, by other scientists/mathematicians).
- Creative Innovation-Design challenges (including the design of Rube Goldberg Machines)-Trips to Invention Conventions
-Lego Robotics: build and program lego robots
-Create Smartphone Applications (imaginary or actual ones, with real app programmers)
- Leadership-TEDx Youth: create a 20 min TED talk to communicate to the world (of adults or kids) something that is important to you.-Create a magazine or blog for kids, to promote discussion of a topic of interest to you.
- Teacher’s Ed-How to lead the 5 programs listed above-How to integrate elements from these programs into the regular curriculum –History, Science, Math, Art, Reading, Writing, Social Studies.