During an open house event April 7, I joined University of Massachusetts Boston’s Critical and Creative Thinking program in honoring the work and upcoming retirement of Dr. Carol Smith, a professor of psychology and pioneer in cognitive development, conceptual change and restructuring, and learning for deeper understandings.
UMass Boston faculty members described Smith’s decades of dedication, compassion and goodwill, as she navigated through transformative learning and problem solving, identifying what’s important to think about, as well as why and how. They explained her comfort in appreciating diverse perspectives, and her capacity to offer mixed observations. Continue reading
During an open house event March 3, I listened to stories offered by graduates of the Critical and Creative Thinking program at University of Massachusetts Boston. Their stories revealed several common themes among the program’s alumni.
While virtually seated in Boston from Colorado Springs, via an online Google+ Hangout, I heard the first graduate explain how the curriculum had caused some restlessness. She started reopening texts, revisiting ideas. Her thinking had evolved. Her view of the world had changed.
After completing the program, “I figured out just how much I had learned,” she said. Continue reading
PEYTON, Colo. (Nov. 15, 2013) — Eleven-year old Katarina Lucardie had a secret she couldn’t hide any longer. She wanted to tell it. She wrote a note.
“I have this cell thing that makes me lose my hair,” wrote the sixth grader last month to her counselor at Skyview Middle School in Falcon School District 49, located in northeast Colorado Springs. “I’m bald, but a I wear a wig.”
Lucardie was born with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss. When she started fourth grade at Springs Ranch Elementary School, the symptoms progressed. By Christmas, she was bald. Her mother ordered a wig. Continue reading
My fingers frequently flirt with keyboards, oftentimes making a move, sometimes when they shouldn’t. It’s that digital hush, again: “Facebook isn’t for essays or politics.”
Where ought I write to understand? Describing her writing process, Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
As a graduate student in critical and creative thinking, I’m fascinated by literacy as mastering process, not content. Knowledge isn’t a commodity. It’s an exploration.
It’s about people using tools—it’s sociotechnical. Continue reading
PEYTON, Colo. (Nov. 7, 2013) — “I felt like I was going after someone who needed to be stopped, pulled over, you never know,” said seventh grader Maddelyn Sackuvich, exiting a flashing police vehicle Nov. 6 at Falcon Middle School in Peyton.
Sackuvich, 12, was part of a group of sixth and seventh graders taking turns in a parked patrol car. The approaching line of students trembled each time someone wailed its siren. Wesley Woodworth of the Colorado Springs Police Department said, “This is my office.”
Nearly 100 students from Falcon Middle School were participating in a Crime Scene Investigation Camp-for-a-Day, an event offering experiences that combine science, technology, engineering and math skills. Continue reading
“Critical thinking” recently topped a Forbes list covering important job skills for the 21st century, suggesting employers are looking for candidates who “use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems” (Casserly, 2012).
As Socrates opined, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” We must constantly re-examine our beliefs, and identify when remaining intellectually honest requires us to accept contrary opinions. We must represent a genuine curiosity for other’s belief systems.
We’re already highly collaborative today. Every day, more than 500 terabytes of data is sent to Facebook, with the processing of text, photos and videos (Facebook, 2012). Twitter’s microblogging platform receives 12 terabytes daily (Naone, 2010). Actively and passively, we’re creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day – 90 percent of the world’s data was created within the last couple of years. (IBM, 2013). Continue reading
PEYTON, Colo. – “The hatred I see today bothers me – it bothers a lot of people,” said James Wade, while unveiling a school project Sept. 11.
Wade, 17, a 12th grader known for his creativity at Patriot Learning Center in Peyton, Colo., had led the school’s ninth through 12th grade social studies students’ three-day civil rights project that combined ideas, materials and artworks.
During the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, they unveiled to their school a pictorial tribute to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
Hung in a hallway, a large, bell-shaped pressboard contains the collage of student works, each representing excerpts from King’s speech. A cutout of the word “freedom” is situated as the bell’s clapper. Continue reading
Miracles? Devine interventions? The energy of the universe creating connections? An eerie but random set of events?
I witnessed an interesting merger with the sun in early July 2012, while driving near our home in Colorado Springs. A vertical vapor trail had helped it resemble a rising star. A couple of weeks ahead of that sighting, we finalized plans to visit my wife’s sister and niece in Quebec.
During the trip in August, we toured Saint Joseph’s Oratory at Mount Royal. Brother André Bessette, a distant cousin of my mother, founded the oratory in October 1904. He was appointed its guardian in July 1909. Brother André became known as a miracle worker by our family and countless others, even beyond his death in 1937. Continue reading
PEYTON, Colo. – “You have a choice to be bitter, or get better,” said Rai Henniger, speaking Aug. 9 to a group of high school students in Peyton, Colo.
While Henniger was setting up a fireworks display May 12, 2007, at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, he says it was negligence that led to a powerful explosion. Someone had ignored a critical safety precaution.
The blast threw him 15 feet, leaving him with a 1 percent chance of survival. Continue reading
PEYTON, Colo. – Displaying nametags and smiles Aug. 7, a group of students in Colorado Springs greeted teens arriving from almost 6,000 miles away.
As 17 students representing five junior high schools in Fujiyoshida, Japan, entered Skyview Middle School in Falcon School District 49, nearly 20 eighth graders welcomed them. Many attempted cordial Japanese greetings, as several of their guests snapped photos.
“We wanted our students to have an international experience,” said social studies teacher Gary Heaston, who coordinated the event for the eighth graders at Skyview Middle School. Continue reading