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What is Metacognition?

"Not every student will create the next Google or Pixar or Lyft. Some students will be engineers or artists or accountants. Some will work in technology, others in traditional corporate spaces and still others in social or civic spaces. Some of them will work in high-skilled manufacturing. But no matter how diverse their industries will be, our students will all someday face a common reality. They will need to be self-starters and self-managers." - Medium - John Spencer

I often get asked "my child is not an innovator, he is a direct learner and will probably be a _________, like his dad". My answer is "how do you know that that job will exist and if it does, will look like it does now?" As a fellow parent of a teen, I know that whatever choices we make now will be a leap of faith. Staying with traditional education or going progressive, non-school, home school, life school, etc. all require a huge leap of faith. I choose as a parent to focus on creating a foundation by which my teen will be able to adapt to whatever future he encounters. This requires skills that will enable them to adapt to change and be comfortable in complexity.

Metacognition builds these skills by asking students to get goals, analyze tasks, experiment with strategies, take and give critique and analyze how that feels and to reflect on what worked and the next goals. It supports a growth mindset in that young people experience setting and attaining goals that may have seem out of reach at the start.

At Catalyst, metacognition is woven into every aspect of the learning experience. Goals are set before every studio for each individual (including the coaches), and documentation reflection is written after each class to create the next day's goals. We were inspired by the pre-school philosophy of Reggio Emilia. Pre-school students have a morning meeting to recall the goals that we made the previous day in the closing meeting. The closing meeting asks of these 3-5 year olds to reflect on their journey that day and what they think that they would like to do the following day. Adults do this at work. Write down what we did today and what we need to accomplish tomorrow and one can go home without excess stress and feeling confident in their work.

Read this article on Medium for more information on Metacognition and how important it is for today's teens.

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