Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

First Advisor

Dr. Denisha Jones

Second Advisor

Patricia Virella

Third Advisor

Jerusha Beckerman


This thesis discusses the importance of valuing children’s natural thinking in the classroom. Our education places a significant emphasis on literacy and math and recognizes human capacity mostly just through performance on standardized assessments in these two fields of study. But human capacity is much more than just math and literacy. Moreover, even math and literacy are taught in a very process-oriented, rote fact-based curriculum that does not allow children to learn through their own natural way of thinking. This contrived way of thinking and limited support for creative avenues leads to a very narrow definition of success, a fixed mindset and visibility only for the privileged. In this paper, I argue for knowing children, valuing their imagination, trusting their purposes for learning and making meaning and inculcating habits of mind through every aspect of study in the classroom. I provide examples of how our curriculum is riddled with contrived thinking and counter examples of how we can allow children to enter the same concepts through their natural thinking. I also provide examples of knowing children’s interests and provisioning a classroom that values imagination and creativity. If we trust the capacity of children to think and learn, our children will enter adulthood as confident, contributing, capable, curious, creative, compassionate, critical, community-minded citizens; citizens that are empathetic and happy, who are unafraid to deal with uncertainties and ready to persevere through hardships and dilemmas.