12 Days With Dr. Ruth Beechick – Thinking Skills
There is a strong trend that seems to elevate the thinking and logic process. Although these areas are very important, it is also important to realize that there is decided difference in how we should view these skills from a worldly versus a Biblical perspective. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post that talked about the difference between a Greek philosophy of education and a Hebrew philosophy of education. Although at first glance at the chart included in that post, it may not seem that there is much of a difference. However, the fact of the matter is that when the desired end result of the educational process differs between two philosophies, what we will emphasize as we educate our children will also be different.
The following quote by Dr. Beechick found in Chapter Five: Thinking Skills is quite eye-opening.
“They (children) already have thinking minds. God made them that way. And as this mother operates, they will continue to use their thinking minds in everyday life. Later on, school subjects become a part of everyday life and children should think in those too. Math thinking in math, science thinking in science, people thinking in history and literature, and so on. This system works better than learning to think in a separate thinking class and then expecting to transfer the skills to other classes. Transfer is limited.” She goes on to give an example of how a three year old, with no abstract teaching on cause and effect, can still grasp concepts requiring abstract thinking. This example flies in the face of much of what we are being told today regarding child development and their capacity to learn and comprehend.
Dr. Beechick explains how in every day family life children practice thinking skills and she goes on to explain how we can make the most of those teachable moments within family life. She covers thinking skills involved in propaganda and family activities that help can help families analyze items in the media together. She also discusses humors, IQs and learning styles and points out the strengths and weakness of these various ways of viewing the thinking process and the capability of students. Included in that discussion is what she calls the “right brain, left brain fad”.
Her topic on “heart thinking” is rich in information that really gave me cause to pause and consider how I view the thinking process vs. how God views it and what His priorities are for teaching our children. Her book Heart and Mind go into this topic in depth and is worth the time and effort to read through.
Finally, she discusses curriculum for thinking. However, contrary to much of what we may have been told from other sources, Dr. Beechick states that research “indicates that thinking does not work well as a separate subject. Students should practice thinking in every subject and in family life, too. We are preparing children for life, not for tests.” Wow! For me, this was an encouragement. For years in our own home, we have worked hard, even struggled to integrate and implement worldview and thinking skills within EVERY subject and not to teach them as isolated topics. We teach the same way within Artios Academies and often face criticism for not teaching them as separate subjects. To be quite honest, to teach those topics only as separate subjects would be so much easier. We would avoid criticism, misunderstanding and the task of re-educating teachers in implementing these skills and topics within their individual subjects. However, according to Dr. Beechick, “Thinking courses for older students can succeed in educating about thinking processes. That is, students learn what syllogisms are, and logic, fallacies, analogies, inferences, and so on. This gives them names for procedures that they mostly use already if they grew up thinking about everything along the way. A college professor of reasoning teaches that formal logic, while needed for math and for programming computers, is inadequate to decide most controversial issues. Logic might also help for finding errors in the arguments of debates and of writings. Learning about syllogisms and such may be useful for college level and for interested high school students, but in itself is not the route for children to become habitual thinkers. Thinking all life situations and academic studies is the route.”
And so, I have to ask myself what my goals are for the education for my children. Do they line up with Scripture? Does my current approach to education and to the thinking process line up with Scripture and with my goals? If not, then I have some changing to do. If so, then I need to stay the course no matter what the current trend might be. I cannot encourage you strongly enough to read this book and also to read Dr. Beechick’s book, Heart and Mind. It is rich in Scripture and Scriptural principles upon which to build and provide a truly Biblical home education and it challenges much of what we have experienced in the past as students and much of what we are being told as home educating parents.