Getting my PhD where they arguably started the field of cognitive science, I got exposed to philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and neuroscience as well as psychology. One of the blogs I like to follow is Eide Neurolearning, and in their most recent post, they talk about complex thinking. The take-home I’m fascinated by is this:
Maybe basic skill sets for schooling should not be thought of as the 3 R’s (reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic), but rather beyond the memorization of facts and procedures, the efficient working of working memory and long term memory, the strategic use of brain resources for dynamic problem solving and multi-tasking, and the organization of ideas and perceptions for all types of output: verbal as well as non-verbal.
I’m not quite sure, off-hand, how we might teach the efficient working of memory (though they may be exercised, ala Brain Age), but I strongly support guided practice in problem-solving (which David Jonassen elegantly talks about; see his forthcoming chapter in Michael Allen’s eLearning Annual from Pfeiffer). It’s clear to me that the curriculum we need to worry about is about not passing knowledge tests (see Ken Carroll on the Chinese system).
What’s nice here is some evidence about the types of things we can and cannot do, and what the implications are for learning. I think this is relevant from K-12 to lifelong learning, and corporate learning as well. When we need to innovate and problem-solve, and I argue we do, then we better make sure we are developing the skills of individuals. Learn on!