Teaching the language of learning: Meta Teaching


According to Robert Fisher a metacognitive approach to teaching enriches lesson quality

  • in the planning and review stages,
  • in bridging activities to other elements of the curriculum
  • to world of everyday experience.

Bridging and linking to meaningful activity in everyday life provides lessons for students with relevancy, not only helping them make sense of themselves and their world but also helping them “see” the way they think through problems, as well as see the way others think through the same problems.  This shows them that there are many ways to approach the same problem.                                                        Think Online Jigsaw Puzzle

Thinking About Thinking                                       Think Online Jigsaw Puzzle

A philosophical or ‘thinking skills’ approach will focus not only on the cognitive outcomes (CE) through asking students questions such as: ‘What happened?‘ ‘Why did it happen?’ ‘What does it mean?’ but also the metacognitive outcomes (MT), the thinking about thinking.

Ask students about the thinking they were doing when they approached a problem.

  • ‘What kind of thinking were you doing?’
  • ‘How did it help you find out/solve the problem?’
  • ‘What was special (or mathematical / scientific / historical etc) about your thinking?’

In the context of the book Virtual and Traditional Jigsaws in the Classroom we look at the strategies the student uses to solve the problem.  This process encourages the students to think about their thinking.  But when looking at broader questions thinking might be stimulated by questions that can help in a bridging process.  This will help in the transfer of knowledge.

Some key questions of philosophy, may be:

  • What kind of reasons have we used?
  • Where else might we use this kind of reasoning? (logical questions)
  • Do we know this or believe it? How do we know?
  • What kind of knowledge is this? (epistemological questions)
  • What does this help us to explain or understand?
  • What is there left to explain or understand? (possibly metaphysical questions)
  • How might this help us, or other people? Is it useful? (values/moral/ethical questions)
  • Was there anything interesting , well-designed or beautiful about this? (aesthetic question)

The philosopher Peirce claimed that scientific knowledge ‘rises from the contemplation of the fragment of a system to the envisagement of a complete system’. Metacognitive review can help children link fragments of experience during a lesson to the wholeness of their experience.  Teachers who want their students to transfer what they have learned from one lesson to another will always be looking for ways to encourage students see similarities and the “bigger picture”.  Mush of education is about looking for patterns.

Examples of such metacognitive discussion include the child who said: ‘One important thing I’ve learnt about my own thinking is that to be creative I need time. When I don’t get in a panic I am able to solve most problems’. Another child responded: ‘Having a thinking time afterwards is a good idea because it gives you time to think about things you don’t understand’. As another child said: ‘Thinking about thinking is the hardest kind of thinking’. But it is the kind of thinking we all need to engage in as teachers and as learners. (Fisher)

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One thought on “Teaching the language of learning: Meta Teaching

  1. Pingback: Chris Hilbig’s – Yes You Too Can Learn to Draw | The Artist's Critique

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