Barking up the wrong tree

Filling the pail

People are attracted to attempts to generally boost our cognitive abilities for obvious reasons. Traditionally, the way to improve at mathematics or piano playing or writing essays has been to pair teaching of the relevant knowledge and skills with plenty of practice. Such a plan is painstaking and at the end of it, those with a purely instrumental view of education are likely to point out that there is no guarantee that this particular ability is one that potential employers will be looking for in the future.

It is this reasoning that leads to attempts to try to teach more generally applicable abilities such as ‘critical thinking’ or ‘learning how to learn’. Unfortunately, when we examine the specifics of such notionally generic abilities, we find that they are embedded in subject knowledge. You can think critically about something you are knowledgeable about but, bar a few moderately useful heuristics, little…

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About teachingbattleground

I teach
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