Between the ages of 10 and 13, brain development reaches a threshold that allows for the beginning of abstract reasoning. But just because the brain is capable of a new skill doesn’t mean a person automatically knows how to use it. In this introduction (and the four Thinking classes that follow), students will learn to name and use their new thinking tools in progressively more nuanced and sophisticated ways. This course will examine Piaget’s stages of brain development, consider the importance of stories to human thought, and introduce ways of writing and thinking about literature. Two hour class once each week for 6 weeks. $150
Week 1: Words matter. They matter because words are stories, and stories ARE the human world. We will discuss the social construction of reality and why powerful language skills are a vital survival skill. We will compare a current news story as reported by four different agencies — Fox News, CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera — to demonstrate how words shape reality.
Week 2: Reality stories, Identity stories, and Fantasies. Stories have different uses in the human world, and a single story can be used in multiple ways. Stories answer the questions, “What is real?” and “Who am I?” in all their forms and subtle permutations. But stories also serve as fantasies, which complicates our ability to judge them. Students will write (for their own eyes only) their identity stories.
Week 3: Ways of understanding stories. All story texts offer challenges of reading and interpretation. We’ll use the biblical story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac to examine different ways of understanding a story. We’ll also refer back to the news stories from week 1.
Week 4: More ways of understanding. We’ll discuss Piaget’s stages of human development, with an emphasis on the transition from concrete to abstract thought currently happening in students’ own minds and bodies. We’ll discuss how that transition will affect their ability to read and understand stories.
Week 5: Practice. We’ll practice reading and understanding a 20th century text by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Week 6: Practice. We’ll practice again, this time using a Mother Goose poem, with Frank Baum’s Mother Goose in Prose as an example with which to begin.