28 mars 2012

"Metacognitive skills." (Critical Guide, E.D. Hirsch Jr)

   A term that, like "constructivism," has a legitimate technical but an illegitimate nontechnical meaning. 

   The illegitimate, broader application of the term identifies it with "accessing skills," "critical-thinking skills," "problem-solving skills," and other expressions of the antiknowledge tool conception of education. 

   The narrower, technical meaning has useful application. Technically, in the scientific literature, "metacognition" means a self-conscious awareness of one's own procedures in performing skilled activities. ("Meta" means "after" or "beyond" in Greek.) 
   For instance, in solving math problems, a skilled mathematician might think, "First I'll estimate the range within which the right answer is going to fall so that I can be more confident I am going at this right and didn't make a clerical error." 
   Or a good reader could silently think, "I wonder what this text is mainly trying to convey. Knowing that will help me fit in the individual parts I am reading." 

   Such self-conscious monitoring of one's own activities is characteristic of expert performance. Children who have learned how to set and meet such study goals for themselves (e.g., how to scan a text for the main meaning, how to decide on what is more or less important in a subject with respect to their own study aims) are students who are better able to work independently. Such study skills should clearly be encouraged where this can be done effectively without displacing or distracting from solid subject-matter knowledge. 

   The teaching of such self-conscious monitoring can speed up the learning of reading and problem-solving skills. But since expert skills are also dependent on domain specific knowledge, the teaching of metacognition in this narrow sense is recognized as a useful but not sufficient help in learning a skill.

Antipathy to subject-matter content  

"banking theory of schooling" 
"culturally-biased curriculum" 
"outcomes-based education" 
"research has shown"

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This was an excerpt from Hirsch's great book on education :
The Schools We Need 
 and Why We Don't Have Them.
Recension by Richard Askey :  

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