By Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., Co-author of Schools for All Kinds of Minds and Director of MindMatters at Southeast Psych, a learning program in Charlotte, NC
In some circles, All Kinds of Minds has become equated with the neurodevelopmental framework it uses, but this framework is only one aspect of their approach to understand learning and learners. All Kinds of Minds is really about a set of principles for education, such as leveraging strengths and affinities. So the framework itself is not nearly as important as having a framework.
The Value of a Framework for Understanding Learning
As we note in Schools for All Kinds of Minds, gathering and then making sense of clues about learning is made easier with a framework for sorting and organizing those clues. In the same way that artists or musicians know their influences, teachers should know what pedagogical theory guides their instruction. Louis Pasteur once wrote, “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.” A framework prepares the mind for understanding learners. A framework is a conceptual structure or mental scaffolding that can be used to organize observations from multiple sources. It is vital equipment for an educator because it clarifies what to look for and then guides how to interpret what is found.
A framework facilitates communication. When teachers, students, and parents use similar terms to describe learners, collaboration is made much easier.
Learning plans are more readily handed off to different teachers. Also, using a common vocabulary helps teachers support each others’ thinking and problem solving.
The neurodevelopmental framework used by All Kinds of Minds is an organizing structure through which all learners can be understood. Developed with an eye towards linkages with academic skills, such as reading and writing, it is similar to neuropsychological frameworks and draws from disciplines such as speech-language pathology. Its structure and components are well-supported by the research literature. Its major aspects, or constructs, are attention, higher order cognition, language, memory, neuromotor function, social cognition, spatial ordering, and temporal-sequential ordering.
Frameworks Can Be Eye-Opening
Using a framework is not confining. Rather, it is liberating in how it opens one’s eyes to new sources of data and more sophisticated levels of understanding. Put differently, patterns and themes emerge more easily with a framework. Also, a conceptual framework can and should be adaptable; it’s not acceptable for one’s framework to remain ossified in the face of new thinking and research. The All Kinds of Minds framework has certainly evolved over the years.
If you are new to the AKOM approach, take the framework out for a spin. You’ll probably find it comprehensive, yet user-friendly. Most importantly, it will prepare your mind.
Craig’s previous books are Revealing Minds and How Can My Kid Succeed in School?
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