Unintentional Metacognition

I must admit that when I first looked upon Stories for Thinking by Robert Fisher I was guilty of judging the book by its cover. I flicked through the book and came across a series of short stories and each was followed by a set of questions that would build thinking skills. I put it aside ready to return it to the resource shelf where I found it.Stories for Thinking by Robert Fisher

Before I had the opportunity to return the book I was given a 15 minute slot that I had not planned for as we had returned early from swimming. This time would usually be an opportunity for fitness type game outside or a ‘Circle Time’ favourite, but it was raining and the kids were exhausted after a week of swimming and asked for a story.
Flicking through Stories for Thinking I came across one titled Fair, which was fitting as fairness has been a bit of a playground focus, so I began to read.

Short synopsis is… A Farmer needs workers for his orchard so he goes to hire a man at 9am and says “If you work for me today I will give you a gold coin”. Then he hires subsequent workers at 10am, midday, 2pm and 4pm and each time he repeats “If you work for me today I will give you a gold coin”. Then when at the end of work for the day he gives each of the workers a gold coin no matter how long they have worked and the workers are upset.

Well a the end of this story the class was fuming with the workers, which is where the follow up questions come in, as the first concept was that why should the be upset with the farmer, when he did not lie to them and told them exactly how much he would pay them. The debate and questioning of the students lasted the ten minutes after the story and well into the next day as the students were so thrown by the story that they were engaged. Most students had varying points of view either in favour of the farmer or the workers and all were able to relate it back to their own experiences to make connections to their life.

This was not an intentional lesson, but the learning that occurred within that discussion into an Aesop like story was incredibly engaging and makes me think that I need to allow more time for exploring of issues and developing of thinking skills and debate style learning.

What next
Firstly I have flicked through Stories for Thinking companion Poems for Thinking and come across Somebody, a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, and have penciled talking points and questions over it. I might not use it until the bus arrives is early again or a wet lunch hour or I might use it in our library session tomorrow. When ever I use it I know that the discussion around who is a somebody and who is a nobody will be fascinating and hopefully lead somewhere.

Additionally, it has jogged my memory back to a teacher that I met at ICOT from Rangiruru College in Christchurch. We sat next t each other at the SOLO Taxonomy session and had a chat and I discovered that he taught Philosophy to year 7 through 13, which I thought had to be one of the coolest educational jobs in the world. When realising my enthusiasm he told me of  Kids Philosophy organisation in New Zealand called Philosophy for Children or P4C.  So maybe if we want 21st Century learners to learn in an environment encompassing Guy Claxtons 3 Cs and 3Rs we need to expose them to a bit of Philosophy?

Now as I go to try and work out how I could use P4C in my class and reconnect with a teacher named Andrew from Christchurch I will leave you with Somebody by Lord Tennyson to unravel.


Somebody being a nobody.
thinking to look like a somebody.
said he thought me a nobody.
Good little somebody-nobody.
Had you not known me a somebody.
Would you have called me a nobody?

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


2 thoughts on “Unintentional Metacognition

  1. Jodie

    At the conference “Challenging Learners” that I went to 2 years ago, I went to a workshop about P4C which I found fascinating. Literature drives this approach and immediately after the workshop I headed to the book shop to find books that would be worthwhile using. I have resources, lesson plan ideas and the work gone into the project when it got off the ground from that workshop that I would be happy to give to you. I too have found those thinking books very valuable with my classess. It works well with the circle time objectives too and interesting that the Bounce Back resource also links a lot of literacy into its lessons.

  2. Nathaniel

    Wow! What a fantastic way to get children engaged! That type of engagement is what we all would love to see with our students, but don’t always get. Well done on picking a story important to them. It reminds me how important it is to let our students run away with something if that’s what they want to do. Such valuable learning.

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