Summary / Q & A
Q: What’s the best way to teach creative problem solving?
A: There’s not one right way to teach every child. What’s essential are classroom and home environments that encourage:
- purposeful or committed effort
- confidence in exploring individual methods
- communication of needs
- thoughtful evaluation of results
- joy in the pursuit of accomplishment
Q: Do all kids learn in the same way?
A: Some kids learn best when given detailed instructions and an opportunity to ask lots of questions. Others learn by trial-and-error. When they are given challenges and many options for how to solve problems, kids not only internalize answers to questions, they learn how they can do their best work.
Kolbe Think-ercises® are learning tools that challenge youngsters to solve problems with a multitude of methods, helping them discover their strengths. To validate their talents and give them clues to what will work well for them, have them complete the Kolbe Y™ Index.
Q: My Spanish teacher has us make vocabulary flash cards before every test. She insists they're the best study tool, but I never use them. I study differently and do just fine. Making flash cards wastes my time, but they're a part of our grade. What should I do?
A: It would probably take less time and energy for you to make flash cards than to complain about doing it. Be strategically obstinate: make the stupid-for-you cards, and then make up a game you can play with them in your head (like finding other words within the letters, or using them as story starters), while garnering the good grade.
Q: I'd really like to join in class discussions, but when I've figured out what I want to say, the discussion has moved on. I'm afraid I'll sound stupid if I just blurt something out. What should I do?
A: If you just sit there you won't sound stupid, you'll just look stupid. Given those choices, why not take your chances. Could be that you'll hear yourself say something even you didn't know you knew.
Q: I hate group projects. Whenever someone slacks off, they know they can depend on me to make sure their part of the project gets done. They're earning a good grade based on my work. How can I make this stop?
A: At least your problem isn't low self-esteem. Perhaps those who slack off do so because you push right past them. You might learn a lot by occasionally trying, and see whether others contribute ideas/efforts that top what you alone would have contributed.
Q: I can see how useful the Kolbe Index would be for adults in the workplace, but in school, I as a parent am much more interested in how my children learn (learning style, factors that affect how they take in information), rather than how my children act (produce, output). I'm not saying it's not a useful classification scheme; I just wonder if it's really the one to focus time and energy on in a school setting. I could see Mariaemma Willis's learning profile for preschoolers from Discover Your Child's Learning Style giving me much more useful information, for example.
A: Learning only happens when it goes beyond taking in knowledge. Considerable research has clearly shown that learning requires action on the part of the learner — to analyze, evaluate, and persuade. Since all willful action (volition) is derived from the conative domain, it is imperative to involve youngsters in the learning process through their natural abilities or conative MOs. To fully understand how a child learns, we benefit by assessing the child's instinctive pattern for learning and acting upon what has been learned.
I fully concur with the conclusion Mariaemma Willis draws regarding the differing ways children learn not being addressed in the typical public school classroom. What she and her co-author have observed as differences in how children learn is tied directly to the way children (and adults) act on knowledge and desires. Much of what is described in Discover Your Child's Learning Style deals with the conative, or instinctive MO of the child — yet does not clearly distinguish it from an affective preference. These innate or inborn traits need to be respected by teachers as NEEDS, not attitudes or learned behaviors.
Q: Since a Montessori classroom takes into account individual differences already, what specific changes can you recommend for teaching and the setup of such classroom environments?
A: The Montessori classroom takes into account individual differences to the extent that they have been known and understood by the teacher. Marie Montessori developed a wonderful philosophy of education, but she did not have available the research we have now done to identify, quantify, and nurture specific conative abilities that make up the student's MO. Now that we have validated the reliability of this information, we are able to assess students' strengths for the first time, in an objective way, and train teachers how specifically to celebrate and nurture those strengths in each student. It requires adding some new methods into the Montessori classroom, but most importantly, it means knowing when and why to use the excellent methods that are already available in order to meet individual student needs.
Q: Do learning disabilities interfere with the ability to use striving instincts?
A: Learning disabilities are usually caused by challenges in the cognitive domain, which is quite separate from the instinctive or conative part of the mind. Therefore, people identified with learning disabilities will have all the innate talent necessary for purposeful action.
Tragically, some forms of natural, instinct-based talent are misinterpreted as learning disabilities. This happens all too often because many school systems aren't designed to cope with individual differences — especially among those who need highly innovative and hands-on approaches to learning.