Today I came across a great post by Eugene Wallingford, in which he considers what it means to teach thinking, especially in the context of students studying computer science and software. He writes:
Today one of my students tweeted that he had started doing something new: setting aside time each day to sit and think. This admirable discipline led to a Twitter exchange among students that ended with the sentiment that schools don't teach us how to think.
...Some courses take aim at how to think, or at least do on paper, but they tend to be gen ed courses or courses in philosophy that most students don't take, or don't take seriously.
I love encountering other people who are also thinking about these things. After spending the entire summer off from teaching software and reading Heidegger, and in particular, "What is Called Thinking?", I understand his dilemma exactly. On the one hand, the answer is obvious, and involves students doing both CS and something like philosophy together. But as I lamented earlier this week, and as Walliingford suggests above, this isn't a serious option for most people.
However, while I've mostly given up on trying to convince my students to do this directly, I am convinced that in my teaching, I need to bring elements of this approach--yes, even to the study of software and computing:
We come to know what it means to think when we ourselves try to think. (Heidegger, "What is Called Thinking?")
That 'we' is not rhetorical, nor is the 'try.' If we are to teach thinking, we must try to think ourselves, and more, we must do it in full view of our students, must do it with them. I wrote yesterday that this means getting in amongst our students and working with them. In so doing we offer not so much an additional set of hands, but rather the ability to analyze and reflect on what we ourselves are doing. If we are willing to do this with them, we present a model of working that is more often informed by thinking, reflection, and analysis. Thinking is harder than learning, harder than teaching. If we aren't still striving to learn thinking ourselves, we have no hope of teaching our students how.
As a side note, I also loved reading Wallingford say that he found this in a student's tweet. We need more profs meeting their students where they're at. Great stuff. This is how you do it.