In recent years, there has been extensive research in student learning and teaching practice in such areas as cognitive psychology, learning theory and teaching strategies. Effective instruction can be learned and defined and it is an art as well as a science. There are four areas of thinking to which instruction is directed: knowledge acquisition, cognitive processes, metacognitive processes and the self-system (dispositions). Within this framework, there are many instructional practices that can focus on engaging the different types of thinking. An instructional cycle should engage all four types of thinking in students as teachers use instructional practices in sequence or in tandem. It is important that teachers encourage students to become autonomous learners. A part of the Powerful Instructional Practices Series, this program on synectics is introduced by Ian Krips, Associate Director of Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit (SPDU): Professional Growth Partnerships. Krips defines synectics as making the familiar strange and the strange familiar, and explains that the foundation of synectics is metaphorical thinking where a likeness or analogy between objects or ideas is created to stimulate divergent, creative thinking. He informs viewers that three metaphorical processes are used: direct analogy, personal analogy and compressed conflict. In a real-life example of teaching through synectics, a class is asked to compare a watershed to a road system. Students work collaboratively to develop examples and finally to create their own synectics to demonstrate their understanding of watersheds. The teacher then directs students to consider how the metaphor did not work (i.e., where was it difficult to link the familiar to the unfamiliar) and why. More information on synectics and other instructional practices can be found in the document entitled Powerful Instructional Practices: A Resource for Teachers and Administrators.




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