Metacognition: The Secret Power Set

Four forces are in the wind of the educational world propelling the complementary notions of metacognitive reflection, self-regulation, self-assessment, and a sense of student agency. These are identified as dispositions  needed for our future citizens as they assume their rightful role of life-long learners. According to Toeffler, “The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read and write, rather it will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” – the skills at the very heart of metacognitive reflection. The four winds impacting this mission are:

  • Schools are riding on the coattails of the Common Core State Standards
  • Schools are no longer just the brick and mortar buildings, but, schools without walls.
  • Schooling, in fact, is anywhere, anytime learning; doing it to learn not learning to do.
  • Student agency is the goal;  teaching in ways that students  learn without being taught.

The secret power of metacognition is one of the ways this happens. Students must acquire the skillfulness to be metacognitive, to step back from the action of the moment, to think about their thinking, and what they are thinking about, and at the same time, to strive to learn about their strengths and weaknesses as learners. They must know what they are good at, what they can improve, and what is, at this moment, outside their areas of interest, specialty or speculation. Students must be empowered within themselves to forge ahead, regardless of the paths they may choose.

Attention to the metacognitive strategies for planning, monitoring and evaluation their own behaviors and learning dispositions is key to becoming more reflective and more self-reliant. Teachers and students must begin to embrace a somewhat less content dependent and more application-dependent approach to living and learning. Of course, content is always there. It is what we have to think about, but the processes are the life long skills that help students strike the 21st Century postures of “kids in the know.

Call Robin Fogarty & Associates for professional learning days this summer. It is the perfect time for students to soak in the promise of this amazing set of strategies that include 1) a metacognitive strategies skill set for reflective learning 2) a formative assessment skills set for actionable feedback , and 3) a student collaboration skill set for peer coaching.

800.213.9246. We will listen, ask questions and advise you and your instructional leadership team how to best roll out this curriculum of  “21st Century Soft Skills” that are shaping the options students have as future citizens, facing unknown challenges in their lifetimes.

Education reform: Teaching the teachers | The Economist

In a study updated last year, John Hattie of the University of Melbourne crunched the results of more than 65,000 research papers on the effects of hundreds of interventions on the learning of 250m pupils. He found that aspects of schools that parents care about a lot, such as class sizes, uniforms and streaming by ability, make little or no difference to whether children learn (see chart). What matters is “teacher expertise”. All of the 20 most powerful ways to improve school-time learning identified by the study depended on what a teacher did in the classroom.

Source: Education reform: Teaching the teachers | The Economist