I believe that naturally our brain learns by finding similarities and differences to things that we already know to be true. From an education stance, asking our students to compare/contrast, or find similarities and differences is a way to help them think more critically.
In chapter 8 of Classroom Instruction that Works, Dean provides four strategies for identifying similarities and differences.”Comparing – is the process of identifying similarities between or among things or ideas. The term contrasting refers to the process of identifying differences… Classifying – is the process of organizing things into groups and labeling them according to their similarities. Creating metaphors – is the process of identifying a general or basic pattern in a specific topic and then finding another topic that appears to be quite different but has the same general pattern. Creating analogies – is the process of identifying relationships between pairs of concepts or identifying relationships between relationships” (Dean, 2012).
As an art teacher, the idea of comparing differences and finding similarities is incredibly important. In art history, we look at what the culture of the time was as a way to explain artistic choices made. I believe that teaching our children to apply this creative hypothesizing and thinking is an excellent way to prepare them to analyze the fast paced world around them.
Dean, C. (2012). Classroom instruction that works research-based strategies for increasing student achievement (Revised/Expanded ed.). Alexandria, Va.: ASCD.