Learning Requires New Skills – Critical Thinking, Lat Jumping and Biomimicry

What do you think of the idea that students should be allowed to use the Internet in exams?

We may be at a turning point for exams. At least high school examinations but I am sure that the changes will eventually spread to primary school. The idea that an examination should gauge whether a child has managed to crammed enough information into his or her head is questioned.

Today, the work-force is increasingly looking for people who are problem-solvers and who can gather information and use that information. The overall aim with an examination is to assess what a child has learnt and use of search engines are a part of that learning process. So it makes sense to tailor exams in a way that encourage students to solve problems, while having access to the Internet. Of course, a certain basic level of knowledge is required.

This approach was tested in 14 Danish schools where students were allowed to use the Internet during their exams.

In 2011, all Danish schools were invited to allow their students to use online resources.Of course, the exams have to be adopted to deal with the changes and no straightforward answers to questions were required. Instead the exams were designed so that thinking skills and the ability to connect various information were required. Thus, teaching children different approaches to thinking such as critical thinking and lateral thinking skills is vital.

Biomimicry offers not only a wonderful way to study nature, but also to engage in a critical as well as a lateral approach to thinking. Lat jumping and the use of creative tools is necessary to get new ideas. Critical thinking skills is required to examine various aspects of the idea:

  • Does it work?
  • How can the idea be improved?
  • What are the risks with the idea?
  • The benefits with the idea?

We searched for circles and sphere in our home and on the lawn. The circle and the sphere are powerful figures that represent unity and the cyclic nature of life itself.

A circle is a 2D figure whereas a sphere is a 3D object that has volume.Our cat and dog like to curl up into a sphere shape particularly now that it is getting colder. During the summer months they often spread out their bodies. Less heat is lost when an animal is curled up.

We used the Internet to google this suggestion and we found a little experiment using jars where you can test how much heat is gained when things cuddle together.We usually cuddle up in the bed when it is colder but the shape of the bed is wrong. So we got the idea that a spherical bed would be warmer!


Photo: Oz Matress

After the rain several interesting as well as poisonous fungi have popped up on the lawn. Some were round while the most striking red and white ones were spherical. We were a bit disappointed that we could not find any fairy rings – they are great inspiration for rethinking the way we design our neighbourhood or school.

“Fairy rings are naturally occurring rings of mushrooms and the rings become more and more stable as the fungus grows and looks for food underground. This is a way for nature to make connections something that is important when you try to build larger communities.. . . In a fairy ring, there is a complex flow of energy, nutrients, materials and information while in a city there is an infrastructure in a city with interconnected water, energy and food.”


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