This afternoon brought with it a discussion of cognitive theory.  It’s a topic of interest to me for several reasons.  First and foremost, I find the development of the brain fascinating because I have a toddler.  I keenly read what I can on the stages of development, and have learned much of Piaget’s theories.  (I will admit I’ve tested the conservation of mass on my son, checking to see if he understands that two glasses of different shapes hold the same amout of liquid.  He doesn’t. He’s two.)  Secondly, I believe that cognitive theory can really impact teaching and learning.  The latest research seems to suggest that brain development continues on well into the teenage years, and knowing that should mean educators adjust their practise to best suit their students at their current level of development.

Which leads me to my next area of interest – teenage literacy.  (Wow…Bill was right – sometimes asking questions leads you to ask further questions…am I on to my area of focus for a project or thesis?)  I find it amazing that there are students in high school that can only read at a low functioning level.  How did that happen?  And more importantly, can anything be done?  Are there cognitive theories that could work?  Judith today spoke of various ways of “chunking” information for students, such as helping poor spellers.  Could a similar approach work in dealing with students struggling to read?  Are there technologies out there to assist these learners?  I have certainly used software programs like Read and Write Gold in the past – how effective are they?

And here’s another question – how is technology altering the brain?  There seems to be an increasing amount of discussion on how our brains are being rewired by the many technologies were use every day.  I always find it interesting to hear teachers or non-teacher discuss how students just don’t seem to be as bright as they used to be.  For me, I think our changing world has made these students different.  Not brighter, not less so – but different.  And for us to tap into their potential, we may – no, we MUST – look at different ways of teaching.   I think cognitive theory has a large role to play in all of this – providing the science needed to validate some of our questions and observations…

Wow.  If I had a quarter for every question I posed, I’d be driving a much nicer car…

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