Towards Making it Happen

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<ul><li><p>214 ADAMS </p><p>Tetlock. P .E. (1985). A value pluralism model of ideological reasontng. Journal of Person- aliry and Social Psychology, 50. 819-827. </p><p>Thorndike. E . L . . &amp; Woodworth. R . R . (1901). The influence of improvement in one mental function upon the efficiency of other functions. Psychological Rcview. 8. 247-261 </p><p>Toulmin. S .E. (1958). The u e s ofargurnenf. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Voss. J .F . . Tyler. S . W . . &amp; Yengo. L.A. (1983). Individual differences in the solvingofsocial </p><p>science problems. In R.F. Dillon &amp; R . R . Schmeck (Eds . ) . Individual differences in cog- niiion (Vol. 1 , pp.205-232). New York: Academic Press. </p><p>Wertheirner. M . (1959). Producrrvc ihinking (rev. ed . ) . New York: Harper &amp; Row. (Original work published 1945.) </p><p>Zapf. D . . Brodbeck. F.C . Frese. M.. Peters. H.. &amp; Prurnper. J . (1992). Errors in working wirh ofice cornpuiers: A f i rs i validarion of a raxonomy for observed errors in a field seiring. Manuscript. Fachbereich Psychologie, Justus-Liebig-Untveritat Giessen. </p><p>Towards Making it Happen Marilyn lager A d a m , Bolt Beranek &amp; Newman Inc., </p><p>Cambridge, Mmsachusetts, USA Commentary on "Why Teach Thinking?" by Jonathan Baron </p><p>In my opinion, Jon Baron has succeeded in writing an exquisite article on the timeless motivations, frequent shortcomings, and potential rewards of teaching students to t h i n k . This paper is a work of art . But, like all great works of art , i t makes you think. Thus, beyond the professional glee and glow that such a paper evokes, my reactions were many. Given only a few pages in which to respond, let me confine myself here to just two categories of these reactions-the first as a cognitive psychologist, the second as an impassioned believer in education. </p><p>COGNITIVE ISSUES: SCHOOLING THE H O M U N C U L U S </p><p>Necessarily, when we talk about the importance of thinking, we distinguish i t from learning and knowing. The issue at hand, we explain, is not one of devaluing knowledge but of finding ways to help our students t o acquire and use it more productively. Necessarily, when we talk about the import- ance of teaching thinking, we point ou t that students actually d o think in any case and all the time. The goal, we insist, is not actually one of teaching young people to think, but of influencing when and how they think. </p><p>With this in mind, we freely discuss, d o research, develop curricula, and write papers on helping young people learn to think. Across these samples, moreover, there is impressive consistency in both our commitment t o the distinct importance of thinking and our image of what that involves. For </p></li><li><p>TOWARDS MAKING IT HAPPEN 21 5 </p><p>example, at the level of everyday discussion, we grouse about students who are very smart but dont think, even as we discuss others (while wearing our special wise-and-approving face) who, though less quick, are very thoughtful-and somehow we understand each other well. Our understandings show similar overlap in our more formal approaches to thinking. As an example, a central goal of thinking skills curricula is to help students to abstract and use strategically such heuristics as identifying common problem frames, searching for counterexamples, the process of elimination, abstraction through graphic or tabular representations, and working backwards to check solutions or to guide the search for critical information or relations, and so on. Towards this end, the curricula gener- ally label, schematise, aphorise, and liberally exercise the heuristics across all manner of problem types and situations (see A d a m , 1989). Similarly, and somewhat independently (different subliterature!), researchers have affirmed that people tend to be remarkably and stubbornly oblivious to the underlying logical structure of a problem-solving situation, as divorced from the concrete details of its presentation, and that, towards helping them to abstract and, thus, to transfer such lessons-learned, the best inducement is conceptual brute force: The principles or relations to be transferred must be verbally surnmarised, graphically schematised, methodically analysed. and illustrated across superficially dissimilar problem situations (e.g. Gick &amp; Holyoak, 1980; 1983). </p><p>Although all this consistency is encouraging, we should not overlook the fact that it is also a weirdly encapsulated prong of the art and science of cognitive psychology. In particular, where, in any of our formal and broadly endorsed theories of the mind, have we acknowledged any mech- anism, any process, or even any black box that might be capable of doing all this thinking? Across the literature, there are lots of examples of people who, though brilliant in their field of specialisation, are cognitively dys- functional in some other (see e.g. Stanovich, in press). Very interesting, we may observe. But what were looking at here is a great big functionally and conceptually significant hole, dead centre in the collective and pro- fessional mind of the cognitive psychologist. Please, Jon, tell us again how much shrewder we are as a profession than astrology. </p><p>While you contemplate your (colleagues) irrationality, here are some paradoxes that might be considered alongside: </p><p>1. If students already can and (rather irrepressibly) do think, then how come theyre so thoughtless? </p><p>All people think, no matter how old or young (see Mandler, 1992), schooled or unschooled (see Scribner &amp; Cole, 1981) they may be. Thinking is an irrepressibly natural part of being human. But the issue here is not merely that people think. Their spontaneous modes of thought reflect all </p></li><li><p>216 ADAMS </p><p>of the formal and fancy structures that we can name or describe. As touched on by Baron, people regularly acquire and use a variety of sophist- icated reasoning heuristics. Moving down to basics, all people seem to construct categories and sequences; all people seem induce causality and to reason from deduction, induction, and analogy (These are shoes, so it's okay to stick them under the bed; this is meat, so it goes in the refrigerator.) Further, as we increasingly endorse recent theories of connectionism, we are implicitly accepting the premise that the basic tools of logic are built into the wetware of the mind. (See McClelland, Rumelhart, &amp; Hinton, 1986.) </p><p>Again and quite clearly, we see that the issue is not one of teaching people to t h ink or even how to th ink , but of teaching them to and how to think about their thinking-of making the processes of knowledge and thought available to conscious, purposeful reflection and use. But how is tha t possible? What is i t inside people that could be in charge of their minds and memories in this sort of way? The homunculus? </p><p>7. I f people are so vulnerable to what Baron (after Wertheimer) terms 'blind' transfer of their inference frames given the baldest and most super- ficial invitation to do so, then how come teaching for transfer is so elusive an endeavour? </p><p>The difficulties of teaching principles and procedures for transfer has been broadly recognised in the psychological and educational literatures. Moreover, there exists substantial agreement as to the underlying causes of such difficulty. Basically, t h e familiar ostensibles or contentives of a situation are seen as the linchpins or nodes of thought, and learning is seen to consist in acquiring new relations among those nodes. Because relational learning is thus built on the content of the learning situation, it is natural that superficials of the problem-solving situation should determine its recall and use. (See e.g. Adams, 1989, and Glaser. 1984, for relevant dis- cussions.) </p><p>As 'abstract' thought is thus seen as an emergent property of concrete experience, this explanation is happily consistent with our modal models of the mind. On the other hand, our theories contain no obvious mech- anism for supporting the possession and use of consciously generalisable thinking skills, the aha! experience of far transfer, or even the oh-so- familiar phenomenon of struggling to find a clarifying organisation to impose on one's knowledge of a problem or situation. What is i t inside us that is in charge of all that struggling? Metacognition? What's that? Where does it live and how is it structured? </p><p>3. I f everything gets in , t h e n why are people coherent at all? Why don't we hear the 'pig' in 'pygmalion' or 'happy-go-lucky'? Alter- </p><p>natively, why do we hear it when our attention is so oriented? How do we select what to look at and listen to, and how to 'see' or 'hear' it? Why are we able to stay task-oriented in the face of so many opportunities for </p></li><li><p>TOWARDS MAKING IT HAPPEN 21 7 </p><p>diversion? Conversely, given our single-channel dispositions, what is i t that enables us ever to interrupt on-going tasks and how is it that we are able to stay vaguely updated on the status of others that are pending? </p><p>Research and theory convergingly suggest that the bottleneck is central (see especially Marcel, 1983). But if everything gets in , then how is it that so little of it penetrates awareness or leaves any lasting imprint on memory? And why is it that the objects and events that do capture our attention tend to be those that resonate with our prevailing plans and goals (see e.g. Adams. Tenney, &amp; Pew, 1991)? </p><p>Here is a suggestion from my own work. Recent theory and research suggest that the same memory structures are commonly responsible for perception, learning, and recall. If so, then it would seem that we need to flip the boxes in ou r information-processing models of memory: The short-term store must come after, rather than before the long-term store. But what then is the purpose of the short-term store? Could i t be the interface between our experientially-based associative memory and another, structured around plans and goals? Maybe so, maybe not. But until we begin to build theories about the organisation and control of thought, we hold slim hope of understanding it-slimmer still, perhaps, of knowingly affecting it. </p><p>EDUCATIONAL ISSUE: THINKING, SCHOOLING, AND SCHOOL </p><p>Baron argues persuasively that a key goal of schooling should be to help students to appreciate the kinds of thoughts and thinking that shape their major disciplines of study. I agree, but Id like to add a subject to the list: Education. Why not ask every student, perhaps as a basic college require- ment, to take a course on the history, goals, dynamics, trade-offs, and values-personal and societal-of education. After all. theyve been doing i t , theyre still doing i t , and after a brief interval they will be collectively responsible for its doing. Perhaps the reflection Fostered by such a course would spill over into their approaches to the specific disciplines of study. Minimally, the radical and rational changes in schooling that Baron pro- poses ought to be far more amenable to a citizenry that is educated about the goals and possibilities of education. </p><p>REFERENCES Adams, M.J. ( IY8Y). Thinking skills curricula: Their promise and progress. Educarional </p><p>Psychologist. 24. 25-77. Adams. M.J.. Tenney. Y.J.. &amp; Pew, R.W. (1991). Srraregic workload and rhe cognitive </p><p>management of advanced multi-task systems. CSERIAC: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. OH, USA. </p></li><li><p>218 SCHRAG </p><p>Gick. M.L.. &amp; Holyoak. K.J. (1980). Analogical problem solving Cognrriue Psychology. </p><p>Gick. M.L.. &amp; Holyoak. K . J . (1983). Schema induction and analogical transfer. Cognirivc </p><p>Glaser. R . (1984). Education and thinking: T h e role of knowledge. American Psychologrs/ . 39. 9F104. </p><p>Mandler. J M . (1992) . HOW lo build a baby: 11. Conceptual prirnirtves. Psychological Review. 99. 587-604. </p><p>Marcel. A.J . (lY83). Conscious and unconscious perception: An approach to the relations between phenomenal experience and perceptual processes. Cognirive Psychology. 15. 23bm- l </p><p>McClelland. J L.. Rumelhart. D E . . &amp; Hinton. G.E. (1986). The appeal of parallel dis- tributed processing. I n D E . Rumelhart &amp; J L. McClelland (Eds.). Parallel dirrrrbured processing. vol. I . Foundorrons. p p . 3 4 4 . Cambridge. MA: M I T Press. </p><p>Scnbner. S.. &amp; Cole. M. (1981). The psychology of lireracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. </p><p>Stanovich. K E . (in press). Dysrationalia: A new specific learning disability. Journal o/ Learning Doabiliries. </p><p>12. 306-355. </p><p>PSyChOlOgy. I S . 1-38. </p><p>Is Disciplinary Thinking Enough? Francis Schrag, University of Wisconsin, USA </p><p>Commentary on Why Teach Thinking? by Jonathan Baron </p><p>I am in general sympathy with Barons approach to the teaching of th ink - ing. His refusal to identify thinking with a set of skills; his recognition, unusual in a psychologist, that cognitive psychology has less to contribute to educational efforts than is sometimes argued; his insistence that activity and discussion in the classroom are not necessarily synonymous with good thinking; and his appreciation of the diverse modes of inquiry and criticism in the various disciplines-all strike a responsive chord in my mind. </p><p>On Barons conception of thinking, let me confine myself to a single point. Im not sure his conception is broad enough to include every mode of thinking. Certain patterns of thinking seem not to be goal-directed. Andrew Harrison (1978, Ch. 5 ) has found such patterns particularly in the visual arts, where a design may emerge from artistic activity without that designs having been envisaged as a goal. It is only by looking backwards that the artist becomes aware of the pattern that has been building up. This may seem a minor exception, but Harrison goes on to argue that i t is a good model for the way we often do and ought to think about our relationships to intimates. He contends (Harrison, 1978, p. 142) that I t requires a certain sort of corruption of mind to see them as goal-directed activities and to engage in them thus. </p><p>Let me say a bit more about the rationale that Baron expounds in the second part of his article, which, I take i t , goes like this: The advance of </p></li></ul>