Time to think…

I read a blog post on Education Innovation with interest.  It talks about brainstorming in a PLC (professional learning community) and questions just how effective and productive  this actually is.

It quotes Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius (I want to read it!) , who says “In many organizations, the group ends up being dumber than the individual members”… because… “…decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.”

It seems that according to the research, rather than brainstorming as a group, it’s more effective for people to think individually first and then pool the ideas they generated. That seems obvious to me! I know my best ideas are generated when I have a bit of time to think.  I have been in group situations where, on the spot, I couldn’t think of a single valuable thing to add, because I hadn’t had the opportunity to consider independently first.


What are the implications in the classroom?

Every class has students who are ready to answer, as soon as the question is out there. Some of them have worthwhile contributions to make… others simply like to have their voices heard! But if we give every child an opportunity to think first, we ensure greater participation and the ideas generated will be more meaningful.

How often do we as teachers forget to allocate sufficient time for thinking, simply calling on the first student who responds?  How do we ensure that every learner has the time and opportunity to think ?

Please share your ideas in the comment section:)

One thought on “Time to think…

  1. I think you have made an important connection to teaching and learning here. Wait time is important part of great instruction. Being “put on the spot” often prevents students from quickly recalling what they do know.

    Conversely, calling on students to answer questions they do not know or can’t recall, and then re-stating the question again, but a little louder, is not effective. The, “Come on guys, we talked about this yesterday…” technique is not effective. Waiting to long is just a waste of time. If they don’t know…tell them, and move on.

    Great connection from PLCs to the classroom.


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