1. Facilitating Intellectual Performance
The teacher should make intellectual functioning easy for the children. This can be done by setting up situations that provoke thinking. The way the teacher arranges things could make the children point out what should not be included.
Also a good relaxed atmosphere free of tension enables children to think. To make the atmosphere even better, the teacher can show interest in the children’s ideas and invite the ideas. If the teacher gives notes all the time, insist that children do things his way i.e the teacher’s way, then they will believe that he does not value their ideas. He should allow them to ask questions.
The teacher should remember that intelligence have dimensions. Examples should not only be academic. Opportunities should be given to children to use their social, mechanical, verbal, and numerical gifts.
1 Providing Practice in Grouping and Organization
There are very many opportunities daily for children to group and organize objects, ideas, events and people. The teacher and the children could bring a collection of objects for grouping – any objects at all. When they are grouped, the children tell the basis for the grouping. The objects could be grouped on the basis of number if it is a mathematics class or on the basis of shape – circular, triangular, etc. Words could be grouped. Those that rhyme could be grouped separately. If the teacher writes the words on separate sheets of paper, the children can sort them out. It depends on what the lesson is about. At the upper primary level, it is still necessary to classify. If the children are learning how to
write composition, they can put forward their ideas and then group them. If the topic is ‘A Visit to the Market’, the children can list as many points as they like. Then the teacher helps to guide the children in grouping which ideas go together. Such ideas can be organized and written into paragraphs.
3. Finding and Establishing Relationships
This is an extension of grouping and takes the practice in grouping to a higher level. A game which we often play with children is to make systems in science. We start with very simple ideas. `I want to make a system in science. It has the sun and the leaf. The sun shines on the leaf’ – a primary four child made that system. The idea is that we should look for relationships of all kinds.
Give them practice in arranging objects according to graduated size, number, colour. Arrange events in time sequence.
Another important relationship is in the form of a hierarchy. Things get built up into larger wholes. For instance ant, fly, bee can be put into a group as insects. Then insects put into a larger group of animals. So the relationship is from specific to general. A different type of relationship involves part and whole. Our children have difficulty in what Piaget calls `class inclusion’-being able to see the relationship of part and whole and compare a part and the whole. An example of this is comparing girls and children in your class. The class is made up of girls and boys. The children may compare the number of girls and boys. But there is also another level of comparison which involves the number of girls and the number of children in the whole class. Children find it difficult to separate the girls mentally and also have them in the total group mentally. Try it. They need practice. In upper primary you can ask them a simple quiz of this nature:
`All children in this class are bright The girls in this class are bright
Therefore all the boys in this class will be——— ,
Let them develop such types of riddles or quizzes. Give practice also in reversible relationships.
4 Problem Solving.
Children need lots of experience in solving problems. De Bono asked children to write essays or draw how to keep a cat and a dog in the same place. The essays and drawings were very interesting. They showed the same type of solutions that adults normally give. Children can solve problems but they need practice with familiar problems.
You can help in many ways. Let them know that there are many ways of solving problems. Help them to spot problems in the class, the school and the environment. Have you ever tried to open the door when both hands are carrying things? Is that a
problem? Let the children find some more everyday problems. How can they stand in class without dragging the desk or the chair?
Then help children in focusing on and trying out possible solutions. In the example about carrying things and opening the door, we could try (a) freeing one hand (b) opening the door with our foot (c) asking someone to open the door for us, etc. Which of the possible solutions really works? Let the children decide.
Although we have used an everyday example you can use your subject areas to locate problems. In Agricultural Science or Health Science there are very many problems that come readily to mind. You think of them.
5. Training to Hasten Conservation Ability
Do you know that just setting up situations and allowing children to play with objects can help their ability to conserve? Of course, you can help in definite ways. Remember the assignment you performed on conservation in the last unit (Unit 1 of Module 4). Check it. Try it again and if the child does not conserve, confront him with the fact that you did not add or take away any of the seeds. Let his classmates who conserve also try it and argue along the same lines. Use other objects. (Your course tutor will give you other tasks that you can use to train children to hasten conservation ability in quantity, volume, e.t.c.)
6. Practice in being Flexible
Here, the attitude that things can be done in different ways is important. Try and establish that attitude. Always ask and reward anyone who can use a different method to obtain results.
Demonstrate by using more than one method yourself. You can say the same thing, convey the same meaning in different ways. Problems can be solved by different methods. Counting, addition, subtraction e.t.c. can all be done in different ways.
One of the very useful ways of training children and even adults in flexibility is by asking them to use different modes of expression. For instance a story could be told in words, by drawing, by moulding a model. These different modes of expression can be used by everybody. One does not need to be an artist.
Let us consider an example of keeping the dog and cat in the same place. We can say for example tie the dog and the cat to different trees. We can say the same thing by sketching or drawing it. A third mode of expressing the same thing is by acting or miming. Try it, your class will be very lively and the children will think. If some children mime, others can guess what they have tried to communicate. In this way you will teach the children to change thoughts into verbal and action modes.
7. Give Children Opportunity to Do Things Independently
Small group projects and individual work help children to plan and put many of the things they have learnt into practice. Also, they learn how to look for information and use their memory.
In order not to forget, children have to be taught to jot things down, to rehearse what they have to do.
8. Monitoring Own Thinking
The kinds of errors that our children sometimes make is unbelieveable. Let me give you an example from our work with teachers in primary school. Children in primary school make addition mistakes of this nature 25 + 14 = 12.
Why? The teachers usually mark this wrong and stop there. What did the child do? He added 2 + 5 + 1 + 4 = 12. So the child knew how to add. If the child had been able to estimate that when he adds, the sum will be bigger than both 25 and 14, he would not have made this mistake. Estimation is important in monitoring the way we think.