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LeoBa Media, New York

Principles of COGNITIVE Education - LeoSuresh, New York
 
  New York, New York
7/30/02

From Leo to the valued readers:

This is one of my best works created in recent times. Here I found some answers during the discovery of truth. And this is what I want to share with you. Your comments and possitive criticism are welcome.
I can be reached at: leorajny@aol.com

Had I use all these knowledge and wisdom when I was an author of two academic books:
1. Grade Ten Mathematics: An easy approach
2. Mathematics & Applied Science for ITI
in the late eighties it would have been a greater impact on thousands of students. But space and time was different.

Creating a wonderful atmosphere so well suited to teach what the theory says needs lots of thinking and wisdom. That is what Dr. Barbara Ellis did in her sessions. My thankfulness to her can not be expressed in words. Her impact will always reflects in my teaching style in future. Really and truly, she is one of the great educators in New York.
In my view, education leads to character building. As Heraclitus said, "Character is Destiny."
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Research Paper
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Character Education through Mediated Learning Experience
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Introduction:

We are on a new frontier of understanding the role of behavior and the neurophysiological structure related to it. Knowledge, know-how, wisdom and values are the characters build through learning, are the results of different sturctures of brain. Feuerstein says, "behavior shapes the brain as much as the brain shapes behavior"(1).

Development of wisdom and values are the focus in the kindergarten and the lower grades. They learn to share, to control their tempers, to consider the consequences of what they might do. For the kids, socialization is a pre-requisite to further learning. Wisdom and value come into play only when the brain is engaged in solving certain kinds of problems, and when they are capable of understanding: "what shall I do next?", "what do I want to do?" and "what will be the consequences to me and other people I care about?"

The dispositions most influence good and productive thinking and how information is processed, how thinking skills can be evaluated and apply in classroom and mainly the necessary classroom strategies to enhance intellectual development. Intellectual Characters(IC) are a set of dispositions, curiosity, skepticism and open-mindness shape and motivate intellectual behavior. Since attitudes, beliefs, habits, sensitivities, inclinations and dispositions are the factors of IC. shape thinking and influence bahavior, this is where the educators need to focuss with optimism as attitudes and beliefs and habits can be changed, dispositions can be aquired or cognitive styles are under our control(3). In short, learning molds character as simple as it is.

In addition to intellectual characters, attributes like honesty, integrity, civility and cooperativeness, perseverence and persistence of students are to be focussed. Curriculum of the classroom must be examined to understand what pattern of thinking is being developed and refocus it when it is necessary. Providing models and values can make powerful changes in thinking. Activities should help the students to be broad-mindedness and adventurous, to create intellectual curiosity, clarify and seek understanding, to be planful and strategic, to be intellectually careful, to seek and evaluate reasons and to be metacognitive. Importance of being open-mindedness in new situations in classroom and considering alternatives when one is stuck help to change thinking pettern. Creating very many environments and developing the inclination awareness needed to nurture the intellectual character of students should be my focus. Social attributes may be developed naturally and easily by using the insight available to us through Feuerstein's Mediated Learning Experience(MLE), a mediatee is involved in an experience while he/she extract from that experience generalization which will be useful in other contexts. As an Educator in the New York City Board of Education, my focus is the development of the four following characters of students, above all character education.

  • Knowledge: help to make sense out of sensation
  • Know-how: manifested in doing something
  • Wisdom: involves taking into account, ahead of time, the consequences of an action.
  • Values: used when we weigh different courses of action.

The problem solving skills developed through MLE will help to develop the characters of students. Goleman, in his Emotional Intelligence(1995), "emotional development, social values and affective behavior depend on external experience"(4). "Who can share the external experiences?"
"The mediator, in MLE," says Feuerstein.

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What is to do with Multiple Intelligence in Character Education?
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The theory of Multiple Intelligence (MI) of Gardner gives a theoretical foundation for recognizing the different abilities and talents of students. Gardner's definition of Intelligence is "the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting" (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). Depends on the biological and cultural research, Gardner defined the following intelligences which are needed to productively function in society:

  • Logical- Mathematical Intelligence, related with scientific and mathematical thinking
  • Linguistic Intelligence, about mastery and manipulation of language
  • Spatial Intelligence, manipulate and form mental images
  • Musical Intelligence, recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, rhythms and harmony
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, using mental abilities to coordinate one's bodily movements
  • The personal Intelligence, interpersonal feelings and intentions of others
  • Intra-personal Intelligence, understand one's own feelings and motivations
  • Naturalist Intelligence, ability to discriminate among living things and sensitivity to other features of the natural world.

As an Educator, I am looking forward to find a method to understand the stengths and weeknesses of multiple intelligences of each students as there exists many learning styles in classroom and to create an intelligence profile for each student as the students do not learn the same way and can not be assessed in a same fashion. My job here is to show students how to use their more developed intelligence to assist in the understanding of a subject which normally employs their weaker intelligence. Multiple Intelligences are anatomically separated but never operate independently, they are interdependent. Strengthening one intelligence will enable to strengthen the other intelligence is the key behind this approach(6). By activating many intelligences, students get a deeper understanding of the subject. The application of technologies, primarily computers and other instructional multi-media are effective cognitive learning tools could activate many intelligences. Create an environment for learning is the key behind Gardner's theory and ultimately it leads to character education.

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What is to do with Mediated Learning Experience in Character Education?
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Mediated learning and cognitive education address the 'how' of learning, not the 'what'. Developing cognitive skills required for effective thought and problem solving behavior is the focus of these methods. Not all students developed a system or strategy inorder to be efficient in storing(remembering) many things in their memory. Solving certain tasks become difficult and demanding, especially children with dyslexic. Some give up the task, thinking it is beyond their abilities. Certain cognitive pre-requisites are required in this case, to be on task. The mediator encourage the student to think of ways to make such a task easier, leads him/her to recognize the need to apply a rule or principle inorder to solve the problem. Here the static intellectual function of the students is elevated to a mediated learning experience which demonstrates their potential to change. According to Feuerstein, change within a student requires a process depends on the following factors:

  • The individual recognizing the need to change
  • The belief that change can occur
  • The means and the methods to make it happen
  • The correct programme of intervention
  • The skills, generalisations and principles derived from the programme
  • The application of those generalizations into real life situations

Feuerstein illustrates the diversity and richness of the programme and the application of Mediated Learning Approach. The main concept is to bring thought process to hypothetical thinking, planning and many other cognitive skills into the task. In reality, the more we know about something, the easier it is to find a solution. First, students should know what they know(or what they have), then find a strategy to understand what they do not know(or lacks). This analytical approach(7) can be applied in so many ways. Feuerstein says, "we all have the capacity to change." The brain is capable of adapting and changing. His theory encourages to modify the low functioning child to adapt to the environment by giving him the cognitive tools he needed to become an autonomous and active learner rather than adapting the environment to suit him. Feuerstein's 'passive acceptance approach' allows acceptance of the low functioning child as static or immuvable. But we should perceive the child as an open system that is receptive to change and modifiable. Mediator continue to believe in the child's capacity to change. Perseverence and persistence succeeds. This is what Feuerstein's view in 'the belief system'. This is where Mediated Learning and cognitive education play a big role in the modification of Cognitive approach is to create an insight within the child so that he will be able to solve problems in an optimistic and proactive manner. The method of intervention gives him the strategies and tools he needs to learn and awareness of his mental processes. This newly aquired generalization can be applied in his daily life, and in many other areas and resulted in character building. New developments support their theories proves there is no significant differences between cognitive(learning) process and affective(emotional/motivational) process. The main concept is to bring thought process to hypothetical thinking, planning and many other cognitive skills into the task. In reality, the more we know about something, the easier it is to find a solution. All learning implies a change in brain, a strengthening of synaptic connections, developing more dendrites.

The cognitive function, has three phases of the mental act: input, elaboration and output which has parallel effects on social/behavioral characters. The complete development of the skills and operations of the cognitive process and the characters of students through MLE to function effectively and responsibly in the society is my focus as an Educator. Feuerstein's transcendence, self-change and sharing are the key words.

Here is a very simple Lesson Plan I prepared according to the present traditional method to show how Mediated Learning Experience work in a typical classroom.

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Lesson Plan
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Teacher: Leo
Subject: Mathematics (Chapter 7, page 78, Area)
Grade Level: 8
Date: July 30, 2002 (Individual assignment)
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Aim: To determine the areas of rectangle and square

Objective: Students will be able to find area of rectangle and square and to analyze how it is related to the length of the sides of rectangle and square

Skills: Observation and analyzing

Secondary skills: Writing(Drawing), listening, speaking, measuring length, self assessment and multiplication

Material needed: Graph papers (square centimeter and square inch)

Prerequisites: concept of square and linear units and the following:
Parallelogram: a four sided plane figure whose opposite sides are parallel and equal.
Rectangle: a parallelogram with all its angles are right angles and one side is longer than the other and the opposite sides are equal.
Square: a parallelogram having four sides equal and four right angles.

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Procedure: STAGE: 1

Step 1: Select graph paper square centimeter.

Step 2: Trace your palm on the graph paper.
(Right/left palm. Fingers can be wide apart/closed, choice is students').

Step 3: Put X mark on full squares and count. Number of full squares(x's) =________

Step 4: Put / mark on half square or bigger but not full squares. And count them =________

Step 5: Total squares marked (x's + /'s) =________ squares

Step 6: Area of the palm =________ square centimeters

Step 7: What did you do now? (Ans: Counted how many small squares fit in your palm)

Step 8: Meaning of your action? (In mathematical terms, finding the area)

Step 9: What is the unit of area here? (Ans: sq.cms.)

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Procedure: STAGE: 2

Step 1: Select graph paper of sq. inches.

Step 2: Observe and find the units of squares. (Ans: inch)

Step 3: Draw a square of side 6 inch.

Step 4: Find how many small squares of side 1 inch are present in the big square of side 6 inch. (Ans: 36). The areas of the square of side 6 inches is 36 sq. in.

Step 5: Find the unit of the area here. (Ans: square inches)

Step 6: Find the relationship between the area and the side in a square.(Ans: Areas = side sq. ) =========================================================
Procedure: STAGE: 3

Step 1: Select graph paper of sq. centimeters.

Step 2: Observe and find the units of squares. (Ans: centimeter)

Step 3: Draw a rectangle of length 10 cms. and width 8 cms.

Step 4: Find how may small square of side 1 cm. are present in the rectangle drawn (Ans: 80). The area of the rectangle is 80 sq. cms.

Step 5: Find the unit of the area here. (Ans: square centimeters)

Step 6: Find the relationship between the area and the length and width of the rectangle. (Ans: Areas = side )

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Assessment/Evaluation: Classroom observation by Teacher.

Follow-up Activities: Find the (floor)area of this classroom where 1 square foot tiles are fixed. Self-assessment: Were all students able to follow my directions with little or no confusion? Were the concept/definition age-level appropriate?

Did the class achieve atleast 80% success on the practice problems?

What did I do very well and what could I have done better?

How will I do this better next time?

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How did I incorporate MLE in this lesson plan?
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From the very beginning, with clear intention(8), I expected the right reciprocity (8) from my students, without knowing where they are heading, I lead them to the mathematical concept of area was the meaning (8)of the activity.
Students used the new knowledge aquired from the 'palm activity' to understand the concept of area of rectangle and square and how the length of their sides are related to it is the transcendency(8) part.
Look, students are going to find the floor area of the classroom next!
Students show the competence(8) in counting very many squares with full concentration is a major part of the game{self-regulation and control of behavior(8)}. And the sharing(8) part, when the question of units of area confused.
And I used many other factors related to mediated learning experience(8), which lead to character education.

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A closing thought: Why do I need Character Education?
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The world today is plaqued by a number of socio-economical, political and bio-ethical issues. We heard enough, but again and again, back to square one to rebuild our character. Many of the so called visionaries are blind. Many theories and strategies, did not make any significant difference in our society, still search continues to discover the truth. Before doing anything, we need to know our potential. "Know thyself" was the call created the waves and controversies in Greece many many of centuries ago.

Developing good dispositions is the idea behind character education. These dispositions enable us to strengthen our intelligence is the key. This is where I focussed from my earlier childhood. Recent advances in neuroscience are changing views of intelligence and how emotions and dispositions and other traits shape and motivate intellectual bahavior.

Destiny is the last word and the first word is character. In every aspect of my life, those words of Heraclitus influence. My values, views and virtues revolve around character. The importance of the three R's is only secondary. As Heraclitus put it this way, "Character is destiny."

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References:
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1. Feuerstein, Reuven. Insrtumental Enrichment Baltimore: University Park Press, 1980.

2. Gardner, Howard. Frames of mind New York: Basic Books, 1983.

3. Ritchhart, Ron "From IQ to IC: A Dispositional view of Intelligence." Roepert Review, Vol. 23 Issue 3, p143

4. Goleman, Daniel Emotional Intelligence New York: Bantam Books, 1995.

5. Gardner, Howard. The Disciplined Mind New York: Penquin Books, 1999.

6. Rogers, Karen, B., Re-Forming Gifted Education Arizona: Great Potential Press, Inc.,2002

7. Zimmerman, Barry J., and Schunk, Dale, H., Self-Regulated Learning and
Academic Achievement New Jersy: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2001.

8. Feuerstein, Reuven Mediated Learning in and out of the Classroom Illinois: Skylight Professional Development, 1996.

Reflections