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Dr Vivekananth Padmanabhan|HOD-IT|Senior Lecturer IT&Business|Learning Skills Trainer|Teacher Training Facilitator

“Why does the chicken cross the road?” you might ask.

Well, in the realm of education, the chicken represents our students, and the road symbolizes their learning journey.

The answer?

To reach the other side, of course!

Now, here’s the real zinger: What if this chicken could contemplate, “Why did I decide to cross the road?”

Welcome to the magical world of metacognition, or, in simple terms, thinking about thinking.

In our quest to help our students become more effective learners, we often focus on teaching them facts, formulas, and concepts. But what about teaching them to navigate the winding road of their own thought processes? Wouldn’t that be like giving them a GPS for learning? It’s intriguing, isn’t it?

The Power of Metacognition

Metacognition, a term coined by psychologist John Flavell, is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes.

It’s like having a conversation with oneself, a tête-à-tête where the topic is your own thinking. And who doesn’t like a good chat, especially when you’re both the talker and the listener?

Imagine a student wrestling with a complex math problem. With metacognitive skills, they wouldn’t just plow through the problem. Instead, they’d stop, reflect, and ask themselves, “Do I understand what the problem is asking? What strategies can I use to solve it? How will I know if my solution is correct?” 

Now, who said math couldn’t be a philosophical pursuit?

The Art of Reflection

So, how can we help our students develop these powerful metacognitive skills?

The answer lies in the art of reflection.

It’s not about gazing at one’s reflection in a pond like Narcissus from Greek mythology.

Here, reflection means taking a step back, pausing, and examining one’s thoughts and learning process.

Remember the classic fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?

Goldilocks didn’t just gobble down every bowl of porridge she found. She tasted each one and thought about it—too hot, too cold, just right. That’s the kind of reflection we want our students to adopt. Not about porridge, of course, but about their learning journey.

Strategies to Foster Metacognition

So, how can we transform our classrooms into a playground for reflective thinkers?

Here are a few strategies:

  1. Make Thinking Visible

Encourage students to express their thoughts aloud or in writing. It’s like giving a backstage pass to their thought process.

  1. Questioning

 Ask questions that prompt students to think about their thinking. Instead of “What’s the answer?”, ask “How did you arrive at that answer?”.

  1. Reflective Journals 

Encourage students to maintain a journal where they record their thoughts, challenges, and strategies used during learning. It’s like a diary, but the juicy gossip is all about their thinking.

  1. Peer Discussion

Students can learn a lot about their own thinking by discussing their thoughts and strategies with others. It’s like a party, but the guests are thoughts!

Remember, developing metacognitive skills is not an overnight process. It’s like growing a plant. You can’t rush it. You water it, give it sunlight, and trust in the process.

As we wrap up, let’s revisit our friend, the chicken. With metacognitive skills, our chicken wouldn’t just cross the road. It would reflect on why it chose to cross the road, what strategies it used, and how it could cross better next time. And who knows, maybe it would even write a reflective journal entry about it!

So, let’s embark on this exciting journey of metacognition and help our students become not just learners but thinkers.

After all, as the wise old saying goes, “A thinker thinks and a prover proves.” Let’s help our students be both!



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