Creating thinking schools

  • Education
  • Sunday, 17 Mar 2013

IT takes commitment from everyone in the school from heads to teachers and students to ensure a thinking school is successful.

Denise Shepherd (pic) who is executive principal at the Rochester Grammar School in the United Kindgom, said the institution has been a “thinking school” for the past six years. website describes it as “a whole-school approach to the teaching of thinking. This means that thinking becomes central and explicit and all teachers and students develop a common thinking language and toolbox.

As students move from lesson to lesson and teacher to teacher ,they will be using the same tools and strategies as part of a coherent and well-planned approach. This applies to both primary and secondary schools.

“When we decided to become a thinking school, we were already successful but we wanted more.

“We wanted to produce students who could think independently,” said Shepherd who helps to train representatives from a pioneer batch of 10 Malaysian schools selected for the i-Think programme last year.

It is different from other programmes which emphasise thinking skills for an individual, she said, adding that a thinking school means everyone in the school has to embrace the changes.

“Every teacher and support staff has to be involved and this takes drive and leadership for this to happen.

“It is very much about creating adaptable thinkers who can problem-solve and be creative in a world which is changing so fast,” she explained.

The students of today may have careers which do not even exist yet.

“I think it is very foward-thinking for Malaysia to take this onboard and to change with its youth.

“This is all about supporting children to think for themselves and giving them the tools so no one is left behind,” she said.

It is a great step forward and at the cutting edge of education.

It is, she added, all about maximising the potential of children, empowering young people as learners and minimising a wastage of time.

Giving Rochester as an example, Shepherd said it is important to have a vision and the resilience as it is difficult.

“We found that once the process started, the teachers got empowered and this also allowed the children to get more engaged. They learn to use the tools and in turn this creates more independence rather than depending on their teachers all the time.

“Of course change does not come easy and it took about three years for it to be really embeded at the school,” she said.

She said the school obtained accreditation as a thinking school in December 2009 by the University of Exeter.

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