Could It Be?
Could it be possible that instructional leaders make the mistake of explaining and illustrating lessons to learners too soon rather than extend the challenge for learners—at the optimal age—to explore answers on their own? Would it be feasible for instructional leaders to begin coaching elementary learners—fourth graders—for example—to ask questions so that learners may discover possible answers to complex questions on their own?
Albeit, some young learners may not be cognitively ready to explore answers on their own, especially for subjects such as math and science; they should, nevertheless, be exposed to the challenge of learning. Yet, during learners’ rudimentary ages, subjects of math and science entail absolute properties and must be illustrated; yet, how much sooner after direct instruction of a complex lesson is beneficial for learners to comprehend by applying critical thinking concepts to solve problems?
Is it feasible that young minds of human beings are underestimated and are capable of more profound learning at a young age than that which instructional leaders may have inadvertently entertained of learners in schools?
Before continuing reading this article, take four minutes to watch the video below. The video conveys a story of how some leaders mistakenly take charge to solve problems for others when in hindsight they should empower learners instead to take charge for themselves; in this video, a lesson teaches vicariously through the example of a blossoming butterfly: Watch [4 minute video].
Lesson from a Butterfly:
In the video, leaders learn that they are conditioned to solving problems for their learners, and by doing so, they inadvertently interrupt the important process that beginning learners develop by struggling on their own. Through struggle, learners are strengthened.
Leaders learn that they should apply diligence by being watchful over their pupils yet not by being problem solvers for them as learners. Leaders should be patient for learners to evolve into their own innate intelligence. Of course, unlike the video, where it reveals the human helping the butterfly, which a butterfly has its own innate manner of developing–unlike the development of a human–leaders, dealing with humans, should step aside as they watch and encourage growth among their human learners.
In complex cases where illustration is mandatory—such as when leaders teach a learner how to fish or how to perform CPR, (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a life-saving procedure), at an early point of coaching, leaders should allow the learner to demonstrate his or her knowledge by practicing the steps instructed, even though the learner will indeed make mistakes.
Learners Ask Critical Questions:
Given the mistakes that learners will encounter, leaders should prepare themselves to coach learners by teaching critical thinking questions . . . What happened? Why did I fail? Why did I succeed? What else could I have done to expedite success? Questions may be ongoing to locate logical answers to problems. By the learner asking critical questions, he or she substantiates the experience and grows from it, thereby understanding that many concepts may develop to solve a particular problem.
Learners need Motivation:
While important to introduce novel ideas through illustration, equally important is to allow early practice and failure or success to prevail while entertaining questions to further understand the implications of the learning. The realization about learning is that learners will make mistakes and that they will be able to conquer mistakes through problem solving.
Leaders can illustrate to students that failing is not fatal: failing is succeeding because another chance has been given to triumph. Watch the video below on “learning from mistakes.”
In the manner the video illustrates, leaders may incorporate motivational assignments for learners to contemplate their prowess to achieve their educational goals. Leaders may further motivate learners to initiate action of failing forward—to manifest their eventual success.
From an early age, leaders should lead learners into meeting direct challenges and to solve problems by employing creative strategies for solutions.
To view as an example to apply when motivating learners, watch the four-minute video on “learning from mistakes” before continuing reading this article:
Effective instructional leadership motivates learners to attempt lessons on their own after learners have received proper instruction by their leaders; Likewise, learning vicariously, that which is derived from indirect sources—hearing or observation—such as the “Butterfly” video example, rather than learning by direct, hands-on, instruction, can be empowering to young learners. (See link below for examples of VICARIOUS learning)
Learners may Learn Vicariously:
Leaders and learners both must be problem solvers, and by applying innovative means as a stimulating assurance that other outlets to problem solving exist, leaders and learners may realize that problems can be solved if action is placed as the carriage to transport the ideas for problem solving.
In the article “6 Techniques to Better your Problem Solving Skills,” steps to solutions are shared, and the article promotes that learners should read and react to the article’s message. Learners’ developing as a reasoning creature to the point that they believe, “This problem can be solved,” ensure that they will be able to tackle complex problems as they matriculate into higher education.
Learners Should Understand Problem Solving Techniques:
The message of “6 Techniques . . . “ is to project effective leadership by introducing and illustrating assignments for students to demonstrate as soon as possible so that they may begin the fail / forward process: Allowing learners to fail at their own accord, yet motivating them for continue for success, is the instructional leader’s responsibility.
What would happen if instructional leaders allowed students to begin thinking critically at a young age (fourth grade)? How much better will leaners become at thinking in higher grades if allowed to be trained as critical thinkers in lower grades?
Research shares that young individuals—elementary middle school—benefit most effectively when they are taught formal principles of reasoning, and that the elementary grades and middle school students are not too young to learn about logic, rationality, and the scientific method.
The link below leads into a research based article that provides reasons to teach critical thinking skills at a young age, and the article shares innovative ideas to help leaders guide their own instruction for coaching their learners.
Learners Should Apply Critical Thinking:
In essence, young learners will be equipped with reasoning tools to use for solving problems and for motivating themselves to persevere if they encounter instructional leaders who will exercise their rights to teach learners concepts necessary for success.
Still have questions about teaching learners about critical thinking, about their asking questions, about their practicing and failing, about their learning at a young age?
Each article and video in this post attempts to support the notion that teaching learners to be problem solvers at an early age is helpful on many levels of theireducation.
To reiterate the ideas shared in this post, below are five reminders to help leaders empower their learners to become critical thinkers and problem solvers:
- Realize a person may begin exploring questions and answers at a young age.
- Illustrate how to solve a problem and immediately allow the learner to try to emulate the leader’s example to solve a problem.
- Motivate the learner to continue to fail forward toward success.
- Be patient with learners while they learn to absorb new ideas.
- Promote leadership strategies through motivation and critical thinking concepts.
About Writer of this Post:
Cynthia Mathews is Doctor of Educational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction and may be reached at lukeandlezz.com
When students are given a fair and early opportunity to evolve into their own, to learn, their instructional leaders will witness student learning at an extraordinary pace, much faster than they may have realized, and instructional leaders will perceive that young persons are intelligent beings and can solve any problem through reasoning skills.
Further, learners benefit exponentially when they emulate the support they are given from their instructional leaders, for when young people receive instruction from leaders who teach them within their innate abilities to receive knowledge, young learners strive.
Effective instructional leadership leads learners toward success—