Shifting Phases's Reviews > 100+ Ideas for Teaching Thinking Skills

100+ Ideas for Teaching Thinking Skills by Stephen Bowkett
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it was ok

I had mixed feelings about this book. The concept is good: each teaching idea is explained in a page. For each one, there's a descriptive title, a paragraph or two of explanation, and an activity. I appreciated the succinctness and the suggestions. Unfortunately, many of the activities were too vague to be helpful: "Begin to develop the strategy of having a clear intent for a piece of information to become conscious and then noticing when the memory arrives." (p. 6) This is a worthy goal; I already have this goal. My question is about the tactics needed to accomplish it. The book was often unhelpful on this point.

Other activities were specific but unclear in their purpose. " Ask students to recall, for example, a funny experience and to notice their emotional response." (p. 4) This could be helpful, but it's unclear when it should be used or why. As Cris Tovani puts it, it fails the "So what?" test.

On a related note, the ideas were not organized to be easily retrieved. When I pick up a book like this, I'm not wondering "what is an idea to teach thinking?" I'm wondering, "how can I help students become aware of their thinking, or become aware of their ways of remembering." There are suggestions in this book that would help, but you'd have to read all 100 to find them.

Finally, this book has an unfortunate tendency to see creativity and analysis as mutually exclusive. It celebrates creative thinking and intuition in a way that makes them seem more obscure rather than less. "Look through a book of puzzles for some appropriate examples and ask students to solve them, not by logic and analysis, but by sleeping on the problem or saying 'the answer will come to me'." This kind of magical thinking doesn't cause people to suddenly become more creative, and doesn't help people discover the creativity they already use. It's also a pretty narrow definition of creativity.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 24, 2011 – Shelved
August 24, 2011 – Finished Reading

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