Higher order thinking about HOTS

Higher order thinking about HOTS

- in Features, Grumpy Educators

All hail Higher Order Thinking Skills!

HOTS (gotta love the acronym) conjures up images of Einstein, Hawking and Holmes. Who wouldn’t want to be them? Who wouldn’t want to have a company full of them? If our schools could teach more kids to have good HOTS, think of how far our country could go. Or so goes the lower level thinking of HOTS.

Higher order thinking skills involved analyzing and evaluating. In contrast lower order thinking skills involve things like observing and describing. We are being pushed towards prizing the former, when often we really value the latter because it can be so much harder to do.

Take our friend Sherlock Holmes. Yes he was able to use the art of deduction to solve crimes, clearly using higher order thinking. But his greatest skill was observing which we are told is a lower order thinking skill. His classic rebuke to Dr. Watson in A Scandal in Bohemia was, “You have not observed. And yet you have seen.”

Nathan Woods in the Journal of Education wrote, “In some situations the ability to observe and describe something accurately and in detail is demanding. Because human minds tend to impose patterns or ‘meanings’ onto their perceptions, the ability to see accurately and in detail is often difficult.”

In contrast, higher order thinking like analyzing a text, breaking it into parts and see how the parts make up the whole, can be much easier than writing an accurately descriptive paragraph of an observation.

Yet our schools want to focus heavily on HOTS. They want to teach it. Test it. Foster it. Why? Because business claims to want it[…]

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