Self-Initiated Cognitive Activity

A nice blog on play by Nicholas

Nicholas Meier

The education world is full of acronyms for educational practices. I have one that I would like to promote. SICA: Self Initiated Cognitive Activity.

We know that self-initiation is an important quality for everyone to have to be successful in life. We should design activities in school that promote such behavior. Every day we hear about how entrepreneurship is the wave of the future—or is it the present? Every “self-made” millionaire required self-initiation.

And cognitive means thinking. If education is not meant to help students think better, then I don’t know what it is for!

Cognitive learning theory and even recent brain research has demonstrated how learning is enhanced when the learner is actively engaged in their own learning process, rather than being a passive recipient of knowledge from someone else.

This leads us to the obvious conclusion that school activities that are designed with student initiation and that engaging…

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Deborah.

    Thank you for your thoughtful posts! They are a healthy reminder to me about the priorities and goals of my job as an administrator.

    I am hoping you can point me in the direction of some recent research on classroom size. I just left a meeting where our assistant superintendent told us that “all the research shows that there is no difference in class sizes between 20 and 30.” I know the meta-analysis studies show this but are there some great counter studies. 24 students in a thirds grade class is fine? Really?

    Let me know if you have any ideas.

    Thank you. Lisa Furlong


  2. ( adapted from original response on N. Meier’s blog):

    As the man says, skillfuly playful engagement is “the obvious conclusion”. (Check out great Friedrich Schiller’s more abstract “play-drive, c.1800!). But this innocent post begs the Problem: Awesome ideas and methods abound from at least hundreds of formidable researcher-writer-teachers like the Meiers, and way earlier. So, if you agree there is a “mess”[and I don’t exactly mean A Nation at Risk (1983!)], then the “fight” is not about publicizing good theory and practice. Could Rethinking Schools, Badass Teachers et al. be on to something more essential? Henry Giroux, too, however ponderous a writer.

    Last thought here: There are economic and other incentives for our “best” people to become university-centric, in a way that facilitates emphasiis on intellectual rather than, uh, social-poliitcal-cultural struggles.Granted few can be Cornel West or Lucy Calkins–but their examples highlight a kind of real-world integration that maybe…is a necessary model?

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