How much time is actually devoted to cognitive development in a typical classroom? An excellent teacher will do his best to integrate thought development, but the main thrust in the classroom is the acquisition of content and subject-specific skills. A teacher can try to globalize skills but they usually remain referenced to a specific area of learning. However, techniques exist that specifically develop thinking. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our children could benefit from these methods?
Doctor Reuven Feuerstein, an Israeli cognitive psychologist renowned for his theory of intelligence, states “intelligence is not ‘fixed’, but rather modifiable.” Intelligence can be taught.
The Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment Standard is a cognitive intervention/enrichment program. Feuerstein developed 14 “instruments,” a series of pencil and paper tasks which increase in their level of difficulty and are independent of any subject area.
Usually when we hear of these theories they seem impractical to incorporate into our school systems. They probably require (expensive) trained facilitators and (expensive) equipment or the retraining of our entire staff (again, expensive) and far more time to be devoted than we have. But, Feuerstein’s methods can be easily implemented in a school. It can be taught twice a week. Most of our schools provide sports for that amount of time. Don’t our children deserve to enter the gymnastics of the mind for regular workouts as well?
Bnos Rabbeinu, a Lubavitch girls’ high school in Chicago, implemented the Feurestein program this year. The following are direct quotes from the students in their own analysis of how they changed and grew due to the Feuerstein method.
“I started making lists and times for after school and that is why I get things done more. I’m more organized then before. I’m more aware of what I do and how I think.”
“When things go wrong in my schedule, instead of giving up I find myself saying, change strategy. Instead of sitting and getting upset when I make mistakes, I started to tell myself, what will I do differently next time. I’m less impulsive and when I am, I’m aware of it.”
“It used to be that I paid no attention to time and always came late, but now I pay more attention to the schedule.”
“I’m far more careful with test taking. I’m less impulsive and now re-read and make sure I understand the question correctly. I also double check that I’ve answered each question correctly. I’m also more efficient in my “to-do” lists. Whatever has to be done at a certain time gets done then, but I’m more flexible with getting everything else done earlier.”
“Recently when I would talk to people, I would make sure to go into their space, making sure that I’m not the only one understanding what I’m saying.”
“I see that I think more broadly and in different ways.”
“It is easier for me to get out of my box. I’m more focused on efficiency. I make strategies.”
“I’m a more systematic thinker. I remember not to be egocentric. I can shift my brain better and look at situations from different orientations.”
“My brain stretched. I follow directions very precisely now.”
Wouldn’t you want your students to be experiencing these changes? For more information on implementing the Feuerstein method, call Bnos Rabbeinu at 847-338-3214.