Our reality today with information overload makes the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment very important. Students must be taught to evaluate sources, such as data, facts, observable phenomena, and research findings so they can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information, and discriminate between useful and less useful details to solve problems or make decisions.
Mitch Weisburgh in his article published on the PilotEd blog of the Acaemphasized that If we are to rise above strife and anxiety, we need a new paradigm for making sense of the world.
What is Mindshifting or Sensemaking
We can radically improve the way we solve society’s problems, and it starts with empowering our students to think. Anyone can learn the skills to shift their mind to resourceful states, and educators are in the unique position to provide those skills to students.
Have you noticed that we don’t seem to be looking at problems in ways that lead to positive actions, and we are talking at each other not with each other. Some tragedy happens, and there is talk and blame, but nothing gets done. And then there is another disaster, another tragedy, and the cycle repeats, with angrier talk and still no action.
We see this play out in issue after issue: climate, guns, abortion, healthcare, education, taxes, school shootings, natural disasters, immigration, livable wages, voting, government programs, transportation, disease mitigation and prevention, social media, right to privacy, gender, pollution… and countless others.
Five years ago, I started on a journey. What did experts know about the way we make sense of situations, prepare to take action, interact, learn, and make decisions? Were there insights from different fields that could guide us?
Why aren’t we more effective?
The source of the problems is that we humans have evolved, and our societies have evolved, in ways that that worked most of the time, but are now driving us apart.
- We naturally think that once we come up with a way to do something, that we need to convince others that they are wrong and should follow the same path.
- We quickly react to situations, and then come up with rationalizations of why; and then cognitive biases don’t allow us to react to information that should be informing us to modify our actions.
- Our most common problem solving mechanisms do not cope with ambiguity, unexpected events, complexity, or hidden assumptions and biases, and so we gravitate to actions and solutions that seem to avoid risk, appear easy, copy what others are doing, and/or follow old habits.
When the situation is novel and complex, these strategies don’t work well at all. Human beings, by nature, often don’t know that we don’t know, or worse, think we know when, if we were able to deeply question ourselves, would find out that we are just acting from fear or habit.
Can we and our students learn to be more effective?
I found that scientists and practitioners from a wide variety of fields had defined both the factors that were holding us back, and ways over, through, and around those obstacles.
- We can learn to use our prefrontal cortex to recognize when our minds are in default mode.
- There are ways to reset and control our own minds when they react in suboptimal ways.
- There are ways to be resourceful and flexible in complex and rapidly changing situations.
- There are ways to prepare for unexpected events and iteration so that each trial brings us closer to success.
- There are ways to become more effective and efficient than anyone who opposes us.
- There are ways to communicate and collaborate with people who oppose or disagree with us so that they are more likely to be allies than adversaries.
- And there are ways that pull together groups of people to form a team or community in highly effective and flexible organizations.
As human beings we should be shifting our minds into these sensemaking frameworks.
How will this help our students?
As a society, we should be preparing students with these frameworks, primarily because these will make them much happier and effective adults, but also because they will make our teachers’ lives so much more productive.
Imagine if students knew how to control their minds to avoid disruptive or risky behaviors? Imagine if students had a helpful effective framework for evaluating news, articles, information, and communications, and could communicate more effectively as well. Imagine if students knew how to collaborate even when they disagreed. Imagine if students knew how to adapt to unexpected events so that they could persist and accomplish academic and personal goals.
Then imagine these students as adults. What couldn’t their generation accomplish?
The problem is that all that information is dispersed. There is no one place to find a unified prescription of how to shift our minds to match our current frenetic pace of change. So I decided to pull together all of these different aspects of decision-making, sense-making, perseverance, overcoming cognitive biases and communication and collaboration into a course.
For the last five years, I’ve curated, summarized, and operationalized research and insights from cognitive scientists, psychologists, neuro scientists, behavior economists, futurists, and educators. I’ve compiled this material into about 16 hours of course materials.
I’ve taught, rewritten, and retaught this course about 8 times. The feedback I’ve received is that this material presents a blueprint for how we all should be thinking, taking control of our minds, looking at problems and opportunities, preparing solutions, and eventually solving the issues we face.
Posted by on May 31, 2022 at 07:43 PM | Permalink