For Teachers

Teaching Styles That Require Abstract Thinking

By The Room 241 Team October 27, 2012

Abstract thinking is about deep processes of the mind that look at several possible solutions to any given problem. Abstract thinkers can look at information from various angles, incorporating and applying learned materials to different situations.

Much can be discussed about the difference between students learning concrete and abstract thinking methods. However, attention is rarely paid to the teaching styles that accompany the educational process. It typically follows that a teaching method that employs abstract thinking will help students learn to utilize a similar approach.It should also be noted that teachers who use abstract thinking in all of their lessons can even make concrete studies more interesting for students.

Teaching to learning styles

Learning styles are defined by how students learn and retain information. Hence, teachers who build their lessons around different learning styles must ably understand how to reach individual students. One way to address the many distinct learning styles is to incorporate movement, reading, writing and lectures into each part of the class assignment. Teachers need to think of several ways to instruct, rather than focusing solely on lectures and written assignments that might leave some students struggling to keep up.

Engaging students through discussion instruction

Abstract thinking is about finding different perspectives and ideas related to a topic. Since every individual will see a topic in a different light, a discussion can open the door to deeper thought processes. Students involved in the learning process bring new ideas to the table, fuel discussions and help other students present their own perspectives. When students can make a quick connection between what they are learning and what they already know, it allows them to enter into discussions and get more involved in the classroom.

For teachers, getting students to engage in the material requires a hefty amount of abstract thinking themselves. Teachers need to make materials accessible, clear to comprehend and easy to apply to the lives of their students. Before opening the floor to student discussion, teachers need to think thoroughly about the topic to help guide students through the discussion.

Abstract thinking across all subjects

If concrete teaching styles focus on clearly presenting information to students in an organized fashion, abstract teaching styles take a different twist to expressing ideas. Teachers need to understand that it is not the subject that determines the best teaching style. Even seemingly concrete subjects are often taught abstractly. Abstract thinking can apply to almost any discipline, including math, science, philosophy and grammar. For example, a standard mathematical or scientific formula is an example of abstract thinking. While the basic information of the formula and data is considered concrete, the application of the formula into other scenarios creates an abstract process.

Abstract teaching through technology

A teacher who only works from the textbook or merely monitors class assignments does not offer a very abstract approach to the classroom. However, innovative instructors who look for new ways to implement technology in the classroom often help students pick up on abstract ideas. By presenting information in various ways, from readings and discussions to videos and computer applications, teachers utilize abstract thinking that extends beyond the concept. Advancements in technology have given educators brand new ways of expanding on materials, allowing teachers more freedom in presenting information and giving students more chances to get involved.

Abstract thinking beyond the classroom

Oftentimes, rote memorization is not enough for students to succeed. Students must develop critical-thinking skills to carefully evaluate information and solve problems with more than one possible option. The more students understand the process of thinking through problems and bringing in several possible answers, the better they will become at thinking outside the box.

The benefits of abstract thinking extend outside the classroom, and both educators and students can utilize the skills that they practice in school to handle everyday situations, including resolving conflicts and developing new business ideas. This new mindset helps students look beyond mere concrete information, allowing for a broader application of learned knowledge.

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