> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: Thinking about ...Feuerstein Training

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Thinking about ...Feuerstein Training

Don’t you love it when you learn something that you genuinely believe will be significant to your teaching and your pupils’ learning?

This week I attended the first block of a Feuerstein training course in Glasgow. I’ve been trying to find out more about metacognition (thinking about thinking) for quite some time. I hoped Feuerstein’s programme of teaching thinking skills might be of use to me as a classroom teacher. Like most teachers I would love to know more exactly what blocks and aids learning. I am especially interested in that moment ‘when the penny drops’ or a learner actually understands something that was hidden before.

I admit I’m a bit sceptical about some of the 'thinking skills' projects. I’ve never really taken to stuff like Brain Gym. Unlike a lot of people, I found Edward de Bono’s presentation at SETT 2006, a bit disappointing. So I went along to the Feuerstein training with an open, but not uncritical mind. Some people might find the language initially off-putting. What was 'Instrumental Enrichment’(IE)? Was there actually a place called ‘The Instrumental Centre for the Enhancement of Learning Potential’?

It soon became clear to me that the terminology is used deliberately and with care. The course itself recommends that we use the correct terms with children when teaching them about the thinking processes. Why? I think it’s because language itself provides much of the route to improved thinking. When we know how to express what we are doing in an accurate and precise way we are much more able to translate that action into another setting.

So far, so good. I am now pretty excited about the next block of the course which takes place in two weeks time. Our trainer on this block of the course was Billy O’Neill. Billy is an excellent teacher and the Director of Scotland’s only Feuerstein Authorised Training Centre. Billy taught in Scottish schools for over twenty years, so his enthusiastic endorsement of Feuerstein's methods is backed up with teaching experience and nous. Interestingly his training centre's website contains a diagram showing the links between Instrumental Enrichment (IE) and AiFL, A Curriculum for Excellence and PLPs (Personal Learning Plans)

Feuerstein’s courses are based on his sustained research and work over the last 50 years in Israel. I wonder how many of the ‘thinking skills’ programmes we are investigating in Scotland owe their theories to this research and practice?

I understand that teachers in Scottish Borders have taken up IE training recently. The Future Learning and Teaching Programme (FLaT) produced a very positive Evaluation on this initiative. I’d love to hear from any Borders teachers who have used IE, and indeed any other teachers with experience of the programme.


Christine said...

I was going to comment on your house post but it won't allow comments for some reason...

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

appreciate you alerting me to this!