COGNITION is it a dirty word

Bird Droppings November 13, 2009
COGNITION is it a dirty word

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allan

So often I see folks limited by their imagination, each of us is blessed with a thinking process hidden in there is creativity. It was only a few days ago I used the example of how many years ago my youngest son was being tested for creativity during a series of tests for a gifted class. I was told he was off the charts for his age. As I am watching high school students struggle with ideas and with thought processes I wonder do we provide the time to think, to imagine, to be creative or simply want tape recorded play backs of what was taught. Are we only asking for content to be regurgitated and not allowing the context to flow from the learning.

“If everybody thought before they spoke, the silence would be deafening.” George Barzan

“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all.” Georges Bernanos

As I watch and see how others teach in the quiet solitude of stillness I wonder is thinking occurring. There are many teachers who consider it is learning when all is quiet, when hands are folded and faces are facing front and feet are on the floor and books are open and pencils in hand writing incessantly. THIs approach to teaching has always made me wonder.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.” Buddha

“Thought is the parent of the deed.” Thomas Carlyle

How do we start the process of thinking in a world where thinking is a forgotten art form? I tend to use reading as a gauge for thinking processes. Myself I read quite a bit, giving myself a basis for thought. So many folks today choose not to read and are willing to state they do not read. Many are content to simply listen and feedback information in a replay sort of way. I was thinking of a cheer used in our school “I say red you say white” and then repeated many times. Sort of a plan when you hear the bell say the answer.

“It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work.” Thomas A. Edison

“Each thought is a nail that is driven in structures that cannot decay; and the mansion at last will be given to us as we build it each day.” George Elliot

Thinking can start slowly and build, each new thought adding to the construction of the next. Several years ago my son was involved in the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program along with several of his friends. It was six weeks of very intensive learning with other students all equal to or beyond where he was thinking at the time. He was immersed in thought processes and ideas. Coming back to the real world was hard. His senior year in high school was boring after that experience of challenge on a daily basis. One thought that came up continually was how many students in high school simply do not care to even think and are just doing what is needed to get by and never seeking to go beyond where they are. That really bothered him, seeing intelligent people sit waiting for answers.

“Humans have the ability to shift perspective. We can experience the world through our senses. Or we can remove ourselves from our senses and experience the world even less directly. We can think about our life, rather than thinking in our life. We can think about what we think about our life, and we can think about what we think about that. We can shift perceptual positions many times over.” John J. Emerick

“A man is what he thinks about all day long” Ralph Waldo Emerson

What if we do not think all day and sit and vegetate are we nothing? Watching high school students do this day in and day out some day’s I think we could say we have a garden versus a school looking at all the vegetables around me.

“Thought makes every thing fit for use.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Either you think — or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reading Fitzgerald’s comment so many people want others to think for them as I watch the various political conventions, government debates, hearings and always the constant politics. A comment is made very clearly defined and then is twisted and altered and even though the exact words are in front of you, people will listen to what someone else tells them those words mean rather than to think on their own. Amazingly enough it works people do not want to think.

“Thinking in words slows you down and actually decreases comprehension in much the same way as walking a tightrope too slowly makes one lose one’s balance.” Lenore Fleischer

I read this and thought of Dr. Temple Grantin, a professor and researcher in animal science and an advocate for people who are autistic. Dr. Grantin is autistic. A book that she wrote describes her thought processes; she talks about the book title, Thinking in pictures. Last week I was working with a student who by chance needs a place to take a test. I had several students out and had plenty of room so she came in my room to finish her test. I could not help but notice she was reading words aloud. I asked why and she informed me she has a difficult time reading silently, she has ADHD and will fixate on a sentence when reading silently. She has learned to read aloud to herself and then she can move through sentences. So many different processes in thinking and learning that so often get left by the way side as we try and mass produce students.

“How you look at a situation is very important, for how you think about a problem may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. When you get discouraged or depressed, try changing your attitude from negative to positive and see how life can change for you. Remember, your attitude toward a situation can help you to change it — you create the very atmosphere for defeat or victory.” Franco Harris

Franco Harris running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers ran for over 1,000 yards in a season 8 times; rushed for 12,120 yards in 13 years; and led Pittsburgh to four Super Bowl titles. Many folks may not remember this great running back from the seventies but his name is still in the record books. He was known for making yards when they were needed and when the situation required. Many are the defensive players who remember him running into them, over them and through them.

“You create the very atmosphere for defeat or victory, we oh so often let ourselves lose. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” Martin Luther King Jr.

It is that thinking that can change whether you win or lose, succeed or fail. Today I will be checking grades on students. I am always amazed at how many do not know what their grade is at the moment. A simple process such as ask the teacher and students choose not to.

“If one wants to abide in the thought-free state, a struggle is inevitable. One must fight one’s way through before regaining one’s original primal state. If one succeeds in the fight and reaches the goal, the enemy, namely the thoughts, will all subside in the Self and disappear entirely.” Ramana Maharshi

“When thoughts arise, then do all things arise? When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish?” Huang Po

How do we encourage thought processes not only with children but with adults as well? So much of our world is geared toward stifling thought, be it in advertising or politics, even TV and video games. Sitting here thinking this morning we need to encourage all of our students and teachers to think, to read, and to open up their minds to a world around them and not just stagnate and vegetate. So today which happens to be a Friday the thirteenth, keep all in alarms way on your mind and in your hearts.

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