What Kind of Thinker Are You?

Temple Grandin is more than just an American doctor of animal science. She is a professor at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autistic activist, and an inspiration to people around the world. In her Ted talk, Grandin talks about different kinds of thinkers. She explains that she, unlike most people, thinks in pictures and focuses on the details that most people don’t recognize. Furthermore, she went on to explain that since everyone thinks differently, it is important to recognize children’s unique minds and work with them so they can be successful. Since every student thinks and learns differently, it is important to instruct them recognizing their distinctive minds.


This idea is extremely important for me as a future educator. Recently, I have learned about the idea of differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction is a framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues to learn based on their individual differences. Every student who will enter my classroom will be unique and require different learning styles and techniques in order to reach their full potential. This cartoon displays how students recognize how they learn and expect to be taught in ways that benefit their individual minds.


Alongside the idea of differentiated instruction is the idea of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all individuals an equal opportunity to learn, and focuses on meeting individual needs. In today’s world, technology plays a large role in accommodating these individual learning differences. As read in Marc Prensky’s article, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, today’s students are different learners from most current teachers. He believes that modern student’s, or digital natives, brains are different from older generations, who are considered digital immigrants. Digital immigrant teachers most likely earned their degrees at a time when education technology was at a very different stage. They are used to always using the same methods that worked when they were students, but due to rapid technological advances and the digital native generation, this assumption is no long valid. Here is an image that displays some of the differences between digital natives and digital immigrants.


Teachers need to recognize the importance of technology and incorporating it to benefit individual learning differences. They need to learn…


Marc Prensky does a great job explaining his beliefs about teaching digital natives and incorporating technology into instruction in this interview at the 2013 Digital Education Show in Asian.

He explains that demanding the same thing from students is not enough. Similar to Grandin’s beliefs, students need to be challenged in order to fully use their minds. Technology extends students brains and their capabilities, so it is important for teachers to recognize this and use it to allow their students to reach their full potential. Prensky wrote a book, Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering For Real Learning, which is a great resource for digital immigrant teachers to use.


The following cartoons demonstrate the technological gap between digital natives and digital immigrants.



It is important to recognize that although these cartoons depict the generational differences of today’s children and parents, this gap will continually be changing as technology advances. Although my generation is considered to be digital natives, by the time I am a practicing teacher, I may be behind on technological advances and may be considered a digital immigrant for certain technologies. It is important to me that I always stay up-to-date with technology so one day, a cartoon like this does not represent my students and I.



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