World Creativity and Innovation Week: Think Like a Disciplinarian

April 20, 2014 Lana Jelenjev


Think Like a Disciplinarian (TLAD) is an idea developed by Dr. Susan Kaplan to analyze ideas from the point of view of a specific profession or discipline. It is primarily used to "challenge gifted students to explore the advanced and sophisticated complex in the disciplines by assuming the role of different disciplinarians" (Sandra Kaplan, Ed.D. University of Southern California). By using this strategy, it again reinforces perspective taking in young children.  Some of the professions you can try are the following:




1) Define the discipline
2) Define the terms used in that discipline
3) Introduce famous examples of the discipline
4) Use focused questions in looking at the situation according to the discipline.
Geographers study planet Earth’s lands, places, people and environments. One famous geographer is ERATOSTHENES who is the first to coin the term geography "geo (the earth) and "graphein" (to write).  He was the first one to calculate the size of the earth and made the earliest maps.
Concepts/Terminologies: Concepts of location, direction, maps, characteristics of places (for example: hilly, flat, green,mountainous, rocky, sandy, wet, hot,cold), concept of the weather, practices among particular culture (for example how they carry water in dessert areas, how mountains are used to survive)
Focused Questions:
Where are things located?
What characteristics make a place special?
Another question for older children: What are the relationships among people and places?



Historians study records of events and prepare written accounts based on their research. They attempt to explain the causes and effects of events and offer interpretations of them.
An example of a historian is Thucydides (thoo-SID-id-ees) who was an Athenian from a rich family. He left Athens and spent the rest of the war writing a book about how the Peloponnesian war started and what happened during the war, and why the Spartans finally won. Thucydides' work is famous because he made some big advances in historical methods. First, Thucydides tried to find out the facts from trustworthy sources, especially men who had actually been there when the events happened. Second, Thucydides tried to figure out why these things had happened, without saying that it was fate or because the gods were angry. Third, Thucydides isn't just interested in the Peloponnesian War for its own sake; he tried to use the events of the war to figure out more general things about why people act the way they do.
Concepts/ Terminology:
 Introduce cause and effect, concept of time and chronology, timelines, explore how they learn about the past (i.e. photos, artifacts)
Focused Questions:
What were the causes of past events? What were the effects?
How did people in the past view their world?
How did past decisions affect future events/ situations?



According to Professor Alison Gopnik from the University of California, there is growing evidence that young children learn and think in the same ways as scientists. In an experiment conducted by Gopnik and her colleagues, young children aged 2, 3 and 4 were asked to make a blicket detector either play or stop playing music, which required them to place a particular block on the machine. Block A or Block A and B combined would turn the machine on, while block B would have no effect — and the children were able to figure out the correct patterns to make the machine go or stop. Their conclusion is that young children test hypotheses against data and make causal inferences; they learn from statistics and informal experimentation and from watching and listening to others, she wrote in a report that reviewed previous studies on how children learn.Teaching children to think like scientist will help them to fine tune their innate scientific thinking skills. What can be done at home to promote thinking like a scientist? Outdoor exploration is a perfect opportunity to make use of "think like a scientist". Have your child look at his/her surroundings, what does he/she see? what questions arise? Build on those questions by gathering information, making hypothesis and conducting simple experiments. Get pen and paper ready to record your child's thoughts and to draw what is going on and at the end of your exploration share the results you gathered.
As parents of young children, you might be wondering why these strategies are helpful. Aside from it reinforcing perspective taking and promoting creative and critical thinking, introducing various disciplines to your child at home helps them understand and explore the world better. You can even start by sharing your own discipline with your child and help them see the world in the same lens as you do. It is never too young to start children with exploring different perspectives and it certainly not too young to introduce them to your life's passions.


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