Workshop (7)

Giftedness & Creativity: Developing Productive Thinking Skills
Taisir Subhi Yamin
ICIE, Ulm - Germany.
Rationale:
Developing the national manpower is a high priority for these countries. Ministries of education in the region are making every attempt to train and qualify people who are responsible about the teaching learning process including: policy makers; curricula developers, instructional designers, head teachers, and teachers. The qualified, competent, and creative people could provide educational opportunities to cultivate students who are able to achieve and employ productive thinking skills. The overall objective of this workshop is to introduce well developed productive thinking skills materials into the language arts, math, sciences, and social studies curriculum. The four areas of thinking skills that will be the focus will include critical thinking; creative thinking; creative problem solving; and future problem solving.
Life is a series of decisions, some small, some much larger. Who we choose as friends, the work or career we pursue, which political candidates we support, what we choose to eat, where we live, what consumer goods we buy, whom we marry and how we raise children – all these decisions are based on assumptions. We assume our friends will be trustworthy and won’t talk about us behind our backs. We assume our career choices will be personally fulfilling or financially remunerative. We assume politicians we vote for have our, or the community’s best interests at heart. We assume that the foods we choose to eat are healthy for us, and so on.
These assumptions are sometimes correct. At other times, however, the assumptions we base our decisions on have never been examined. Sometimes we hold these assumptions because people we respect (friends, parents, teachers, religious leaders) have told us they are right. At other times we have picked these assumptions up as we travel through life but can’t say exactly where they’ve come from. To make good decisions in life we need to be sure that these assumptions are accurate and valid – that they fit the situations and decisions we are facing.
Many of today’s youth lack the basic skills to function effectively when they enter the workforce. A common complaint is that entry-level employees lack the reasoning and thinking abilities needed to process and refine information. With the modern work environment requiring more thinking and problem solving than the jobs emphasize thinking on their campuses, in their curricula, and in their teaching practices in order to prepare students to function effectively in today’s workforce. Productive thinking skills need to be developed by practice. It requires you to ask questions about what you hear and read, and actively to look for other views on the subject you are considering. You will need to uncover any underlying assumptions in material presented to you, and test their validity. You will also need to consider whether a particular argument makes sense, or whether there are mistakes in the reasoning.
In other words, thinking is viewed as: a systematic way of thinking, an awareness of the thinking process, a judgmental process of discriminating truth from falsehood, appearance from reality, mere opinion from informed opinion.
 
Context and Objectives
Educational systems are now being expected to bring Productive Thinking Skills into the classroom curriculum, but few have had the training to implement teaching strategies that create opportunities for students to develop creative, critical, future problem solving, and problem solving abilities.
  • Researchers have found that thinking skills programmes and training make a positive difference in the achievement levels of participating students;
  • Teachers who receive training in thinking skills strategies will be better equipped to provide thinking opportunities for students;
  • Students benefit from specific training in critical thinking; creative thinking and creative problem solving strategies; and
  • Educators generally agree that it is in fact possible to increase students' critical and creative thinking capacities through instruction and practice.
This Workshop:
This workshop will provide participants with:
  • Idea generating techniques; product improvement;
  • A framework of Productive Thinking Skills. Taking into account that the conductors of the workshop will provide highly engaging learning experiences that are both motivating and challenging to students. Effective teachers intuitively know that student attitudes and academic achievement are improved when learning experiences revolve around the interests, talents, and needs of students. The challenging, enjoyable, and meaningful activities that we will provide will allow educators to teach basic skills and learning strategies while nurturing students’ thinking skills;
  • Characteristics of a thoughtful, interactive, up-to-date educational environment;
  • Strategies and action plans to create learning environments in which students can engage in problem solving and the use of productive thinking skills and in which they are encouraged to explore, take risks, and apply their prior knowledge in new and creative ways;
  • Trends, approaches, and strategies to develop programmes aimed at introducing productive thinking skills into educational institutions. This enables participants to promote the effective use of productive thinking skills associated with the process of finding effective solutions. It has been suggested that these skills will be essential for success in the rapidly changing world of the twenty-first century. In many schools today, it seems as if only the most gifted children are given tasks that require the application of higher order thinking skills and productive thinking skills. Yet we know that all children should be given the opportunity to develop and effectively use such skills. To that end, the materials to be developed will be suitable for use with all students. However, each activity will have a flexible range of response options that will allow for differentiated levels of challenge for students with varying potentials, interests, and learning styles; and
  • Practical activities in productive thinking in mathematics, science, social studies and language arts specifically targeted to all grade levels (k-12). Consequently, the trainee will be able to provide teachers with strategies that will help them effectively use the materials and with the skills that will allow them to follow up planned lessons with individual and small group investigations and creative products to use with interested and motivated students.
In sum, remember that the recognition and identification of the real problem is at least half of the solution. This workshop will help you: Generate big ideas; use original thinking; release your creative potential; and add value to your work.
 
Content 
Researchers often consider how to develop creative environments through “person” (the characteristics and problem-solving styles of the people involved), “process” (the operations they perform), and “product” (the resultant outcomes). However, in education, in business, and indeed in all areas of human endeavour, the problem-solving environment is equally important. And there are tangible things than can be done to help establish an energizing, stimulating climate. The focus of this session is on nurturing productive thinking skills in schools, post-secondary institutions, and the workplace by setting a positive tone which builds trust and openness, challenge and motivation, autonomy, dynamism, playfulness and humour, and idea support.
In addition, this workshop provides an overview of productive thinking skills (Creative, Critical, Problem Solving, and Future Problem Solving) and how to identify, foster, achieve and employ these skills effectively. The nature of productive thinking and criteria for its identification will be presented. The factors that contribute to productive thinking will be examined and ways to promote these factors through education will be suggested.
 
Program Overview
This workshop will address the following topics:
(1) What is productive thinking? Personality & motivational factors in productive thinking;
(2) Idea generating techniques; product improvement;
(3) A framework of Productive Thinking Skills;
(4) Characteristics of a thoughtful, interactive, up-to-date educational environment;
(5) Strategies and action plans to create learning environments;
(6) Trends, approaches, and strategies to develop programmes aimed at introducing productive thinking skills into educational institutions;
(7) Practical activities in productive thinking; and
(8) Putting it all together: teaching and promoting productive thinking.