Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Developing Children’s Innate Dispositions at DCM

On January 22nd, Lilian Katz, Ph.D presented "Nurture Learning By Developing Children’s Innate Dispositions" as part of DCM's Just for Grown-Ups lecture series. Many thanks to those who joined us, to Door-to-Door Direct for underwriting this special event and to Tellabs for their additional support.

During this presentation, Dr. Katz shared her thoughts on providing children with intellectually stimulating “plans of learning” – those that will help children construct their own knowledge and understanding, develop essential life skills, strengthen innate dispositions and nurture positive feelings/emotions.

Impact of Dispositions on Learning
Dr. Katz defines dispositions as “habits of mind or habits of intention.” While it is assumed that children come to school with different sets of readiness skills, she states it should also be assumed that all children come to school with these intellectual dispositions. For example, all children have the innate disposition to be generous, cooperative, curious and/or creative.

Different than knowledge/understanding or skills, Dr. Katz states dispositions should be included among learning goals because “the acquisition of knowledge and skills alone does not guarantee that they will be used and applied” (Katz, 1993). To illustrate this point in her presentation, she described how a child may acquire reading skills, but if his disposition to read is damaged, he may not read again. “Dispositions cannot be learned from instruction. However, dispositions can become damaged by instruction if too early or formal,” says Dr. Katz.

Developing the Innate Dispositions That Support Learning – Curiosity, Creativity and More
According to Dr. Katz, “The younger the children are, the more important it is to strengthen their dispositions to look more closely at the events in their own environment and experience.” To strengthen these dispositions, she states it is useful to distinguish between academic and intellectual. While academic means specific bits of information, intellectual points to the process behind thinking, reasoning and understanding.

Dr. Katz states that intellectual dispositions include the disposition to analyze, theorize, be curious, be creative. To strengthen these dispositions, she suggests asking open-ended, thought-provoking questions, such as What do you want to find out? or What makes you think so? Dr. Katz also suggests adults model these dispositions for children. She states, “Many dispositions are learned from being around people who have observed dispositions and who make their dispositions observable.”

Developing Innate Intellectual Dispositions at DCM
During the presentation, Dr. Katz mentioned how DCM creates opportunities for parents and educators to strengthen children’s intellectual dispositions. As you explore DCM’s open-ended exhibits and activities, nurture learning by developing children’s innate intellectual dispositions by doing the following:

· Assume all children have innate intellectual dispositions (creativity, curiosity, etc.). Ask yourself what knowledge, skills and dispositions you want your child to have.
· Ask your child thought-provoking questions, such as What do you think this is for? How do you think it does that? or What makes you think so?
· Model the dispositions you want to strengthen. For example, Dr. Katz mentioned that children who grow up around people they observe reading are more likely to respond when learning to read.
· Follow your child’s lead and allow him to make some decisions. In the Construction House, encourage your child to create his own design. If he is having a hard time deciding what to make, offer him the opportunity to draw or try using a tool he hasn’t had the chance to use before.

To hear Dr. Katz's entire presentation from this site, click the arrow below. You can hear audio directly from this site or download to listen later.

Save the Date!
Thursday, April 23, 2009 7-8:30 PM

Just for Grown Ups with:
Jennifer Rosinia Ph.D, OTR/L

Looking at Children with New Eyes:
How to Use the Sensory Processing Approach

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