Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Metacognition and Writing
Metacognition is defined as ‘thinking about thinking’. According to the theory, one can learn more if one is aware of how one learns. Metacognition is a skill and good learners have this ability. There are ways to develop metacognition and one way is via visual thinking tools like mind mapping. Writing and reflection via journaling can also stimulate metacognition. This theory has been around since the 1970’s and I have come across this word a few times but it has passed me by. Only after reading an article in Poet & Writers by a writer called Dennis Cass was I able to understand its implication for writers. I checked his blog and he is also exploring the use of digital dictation to speed up writing. Talk about synchronicity!
According to the author, writing well occurs if one has a high level of metacognition. To understand the thinking process in all it’s nuances. Realizing that thinking is a skill and not related to the person is the first step. It goes beyond one’s ego though this is the first hurdle. One can say I did not understand topic A or topic B so I need to learn more about it, maybe by experiencing instead of just reading about it. Perhaps undertaking experiential learning activities like Toastmasters for public speaking and writing workshops for writing may be a step in developing a high level of metacognition. Understanding cognitive therapy was an avenue to reducing stress and I guess another step towards improving metacognition.
The writer’s journey is in fact a journey of cognition or, to be exact, towards metacognition. It is not a lonely journey and one needs to have collaboration and help in achieving growth. The Toastmaster and writing workshop are collaborative experiences and a supportive way to learn. One tires of the lonely genius and it’s a road that one does not even need to make. There were a lot of good sentences in the article that I like. There was one from Saul Bellow which said ‘a writer is a reader who tries emulating’. So being a writer is being a reader and synthesizing both streams requires a thinking ability which includes metacognition. So being a writer does not mean having the raw reading and writing skill but having achieved an advanced thinking level that reflects on his developed self.