Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Concrete Thinking Student and the Abstract Thinking Teacher

Welcome to this week's series:
Hey, Ma, She Just Doesn’t Like Me; Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Your Child Just Isn’t Keeping Up.

Today we are going to talk about the student who has a preference for concrete thinking and the teacher who has a preference for abstract thinking.

There are two things to remember about your child if he has a preference for concrete thinking. First, he likes structure. Second, he is social. Details and people are the name of his game.

You are in luck today because I am a concrete thinker. I will give you a first-hand account of what it was like for me when I was a student then (and now).

Before doing so, we must define the abstract thinker. According to Dr. Geil Browning, in her book Emergenetics: Tap into the New Science of Success, a teacher with a preference for abstract thinking is, "More often than not, they believe they are smarter than the average person. Others tend to agree and may find them intimidating." The abstract teacher also has a preference for analytical (clear thinker, logical problem solver, and rational) thinking and conceptual (intuitive about ideas, imaginative, and enjoys the unusual) thinking.

I personally tell college students if they can, find out as much as possible about their instructor. If you are a concrete thinker, and you want a nice detailed lecture, you may not get that from an abstract thinking teacher. Yes, they will regale you with their stories and examples, but their tests may not resemble their lectures. Sometimes their lectures may not be here to be as organized as you would prefer. After all, they are concerned about the concept, while the concrete thinker once the details.

As a person with a preference for concrete thinking, I must have details. When I was in school, I took plenty of notes while in class. I can learn anything if it the subject matter is “formulated” to my way of thinking. The teacher has to spell it out for me in order for me to get it. This was great if my teacher had a preference for concrete thinking because her lecture resembled the neatly formed outline that she had prepared.

My experience with the abstract thinking teacher is a bit different. Yes, they can regale me with stories and examples but I did not receive the details in their lecture that I coveted and needed. There were times when I walked out of class wondering if I took the correct notes. Let me be clear before I conclude this point. This is not the case with an abstract thinker who is self aware because the self-aware teacher understands that all students are different and that they must meet the needs of everyone in the class. However, word of caution just as not all individuals are self-aware, not all teachers are self-aware either.

Over the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of conducting Emergenetics workshops for high school and first or second year college students. Most of the profiles in my personal database are filled with students who have a preference for concrete thinking. In some ways, this is understandable. After all the majority of the time they have been in school they have been trained like Pavlov's dogs. The bell rings they go to class. The bell rings again they leave class. And this goes on and on throughout the school day. Their whole day is structured just for them.

I hope today's post on the concrete student and the abstract teacher has been helpful.

Please join me tomorrow as I discuss, The Abstract Student and the Concrete Teacher

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