STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is no longer the primary stimulus for K-12 education. As humankind evolves, it has become apparent that arts education is also inevitable; which makes learning more enjoyable, relatable and keeps children engaged. An increasing number of schools are adopting teaching approaches that are more in line with STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). STEAM seeks to reinforce STEM by assisting students in developing critical thinking skills and recognizing the connections between art, science, technology, engineering, and math.
The STEAM approach allows for greater understanding, creative thinking, and holistic education in the classroom as the Arts and STEM subjects complement each other. It gives children tools and methods to explore new and creative ways of problem-solving, innovating and creating interconnection between multiple fields. It enables children to learn 21st-century skills including critical and creative thinking skills, building curiosity, persistence, problem-solving, resourcefulness, teamwork, collaboration and confidence. STEAM-model based education is crucial for the next generation’s advancement as they will need these transferable skills to carve a career in the future. STEAM education helps children of all backgrounds cultivate application-oriented innovative mindsets and think creatively in whichever field they will go to make a career in life.
Teaching is what the teacher does. Learning is what the student does! Thus, the baton of effective learning has to be in children’s hands. However, providing the optimal environment and building on their cognitive processes is of teacher’s.
What is cognitive learning?
Cognitive learning is an engaging and active process that utilizes the senses in a beneficial manner with a focus on lifelong learning. It teaches how to use our brain to relate new knowledge to existing ideas; by focusing on nurturing potential and improving memory, concentration, retention, etc. Traditional learning focuses on memorization, while cognitive learning focuses on achieving mastery of the subject through higher-order thinking skills of reflection, assimilation and application of knowledge to real-life situations.
According to Bloom’s Taxonomy and Andreson & Krathwahl Bloom’s revised taxonomy on Thinking skills, 250+ thinking skills need to be developed in each child through various academic and non-academic content. These ‘how to think’ skills can be categorized into lower and higher-order thinking skills. Remembering and understanding being lower-order thinking levels that depend upon the learner’s ability to memorize information and make sense of it. From these levels, the learner has to proceed to higher-order thinking skills wherein children infer and draw connections between information from different sources, use their judgment to analyze and evaluate the knowledge they have learned, and generate inquisitive, novel ideas. They proceed to a level where they know how to think about their own thinking.
The Konshius program has a structure of progress that makes it a scientific curriculum on developing various higher-order thinking skills and nurturing children’s learning potential.
Every session that a child takes with Konshius follows a 4 level scientific learning process: Unconscious Incompetence, Conscious Incompetence, Conscious Competence, & Subconscious Competence. This process provides insight into the psychological states involved with learning a new skill. This process makes the progression from not knowing ‘what you don’t know’ to a stage where the application of newly learnt skill becomes a natural habit. This journey of transiting from ‘not knowing’ to ‘knowing to apply’ is set forth as follows:
- Level 1: Unconscious Incompetence (I do know what I do not know) – At this level, the child is not aware of the existence or relevance of a particular skill area. The child may also be unaware of a lack of concerned skill. Howsoever one may try to explain the utility or absence of that skill, the child may not show any changes within because the child is not aware of the ‘need’ of that skill or concept as of now.
Role of Konshius – Spark interest and engagement by creating the need for application of that skill or ability in the game-playing environment. Spark motivation to learn the new skill due to its benefits in improving a child’s effectiveness in game playing.
- Level 2: Conscious Incompetence (I know what I do not know) – At this level, the child becomes consciously aware of lack or incompetency in a particular skill, concept, or process. This is a crucial stage as this awareness of gap or limitation in the specific skill area needs to come about in a ‘natural’ and ‘motivating’ manner so that the child does not feel any negative emotions for lacking in the skill.
Role of Konshius – Through the help of engaging games and activities design, the child feels intrinsically excited to use the existing knowledge to play the game activities. Most children use hit and trial methods at this stage which reaches a point where the child is not able to solve the activity, even after trying various hit and trial approaches. As the game creates an engagement, the inability to solve a situation generates a huge willingness to learn and overcome the missing skill.
- Level 3: Conscious Competence (I know how to do it, but I have to test its application) – The learner can now perform the skills reliably at will; however, they will need to concentrate and think to perform the skill in more complex activities. The child will now consciously make an effort to extend and refine the knowledge, keep reflecting on self-action, which is facilitated by various mechanisms.
Role of Konshius– The child’s thinking facilitator and a trainer will support in reflection on skill acquired and actions taken to apply the newly learnt skill. This is done in the context of playing our method-patented games. At this stage, we as parents or facilitators act as a catalyst, and create an enquiry based approach to verbalize the challenges faced by the child alongside drawing the path to its solution.
- Level 4: Subconscious Competence (I can now apply what I did not know earlier in every aspect of my life) – The final level entails internalization of the newly acquired knowledge or skill. The learning slips to a deeper level and becomes a part of the subconscious mind, leading the new skill to the level of habit formation. Once done, the child is now able to relate the learning to varied real-life situations and environments.
Role of Konshius – As a part of our process, we enable the child to go through more situations, thus creating more and more opportunities to apply the learning to new conditions and scenarios. This is also supported by following the process of making the child ‘think’ before taking an action and ‘articulate’ what the child is thinking before taking the action. This process of solving new situations, by first verbalization and articulation of the thinking process, is critical in completing the loop of new knowledge becoming lifelong learning.
Enabling STEAM learning through KONSHIUS
Game-based learning is revolutionizing learning in school and out of the school. The children explore an open-ended problem through game-based learning, which helps them reason their way to various solutions. This type of decision-making experience has a wide range of educational benefits in all the subject areas, but particularly in STEAM subjects, which are focused on teaching reflective inquiry, drawing interconnections, and substantive discussion. The 4 levels of learning at Konshius stimulate STEAM learning by:
- Encouraging scientific thinking– With the help of a strategy game, a child learns to create, test, and revise their own hypotheses. Konshius games are a good fit for teaching STEAM subjects that often emphasize empirical methods of observation and analysis, and experiment with the formulation and dynamic adjustment of theories.
- Providing interactive models– Konshius’s learning-by-doing methodology will help to understand STEAM content that is inherently linked to the scientific laws of the natural world. Our patented game designs put players into action, make spontaneous decisions, and think through the consequences of their actions, urging the interaction necessary to proceed. The exchange facilitates experiential, “hands-on” learning of even abstract concepts.
- Using an inclusive and constructivist methodology– In-depth learning cannot occur by instructing children to think in a particular way. The progression design of our games becomes an excellent tool for engaging children as co-author of their learning experience. The Konshius program creates experiences for children to start thinking about their own thinking and consciously discover their competencies on their own.
- Aligning development of mental age– Konshius is about developing transferable thinking skills that are domain-neutral. These are skills required for STEAM education. Each game has multiple age-appropriate levels for developing different thinking skills at every level, as per the child’s age. Focusing on thinking skills frees the child from the benchmarks of biological age for transitioning towards the development of mental age.
- Reducing fear of failure– Each level in Konshius games is designed to achieve success through failure, keeping children highly engaged and self-motivated. Children generally start with the same thinking skills that worked for them earlier and fail in the subsequent level. This helps them realize that they need more than what they have to go to the next level. They learn to add on a new way of thinking that is required to now create success from this failure. Thus creating a spiral loop of success-failure-success.
Educators and parents worldwide are increasingly integrating game-based learning in classroom teaching for real-life centric learning. Konshius games and the program are designed to foster lifelong learnings like creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, and communication, thus amalgamating 21st-century skills that promote STEAM education.
As custodians of thinking abilities and active learning processes of our children, we adults should engage our children through higher-order thinking questions. When we ask questions or probe our children to see their own thinking during game-playing, it helps them in discovering ‘how to think’. Here, our joint goal is not to tell children ‘what to think’ but to make them learn ‘how to think’. So that they can face any situation in life with this innate belief in self that ‘I know how to think’ and ‘I can create success out of any situation if I think’.