As Teachers and Educators, we know the importance of effective and intelligent thinking.
We know now, more than ever that in this fast-paced changing world the ability to look outside the square, to adopt a shift in the way we think is not just necessary but indeed crucial to providing optimum learning environments for our children, and, young adult learners.
My work in health and education over the last 40 years, including owning and managing three businesses and raising four children has afforded me wonderful opportunities to observe the way people think. And this is what I’ve learned...
Healthy, happy and fulfilled people think differently from unhealthy, unhappy and unfulfilled individuals and as a result they demonstrate more acceptance towards others and are more flexible in their approach to challenging situations. Healthy, happy and fulfilled people understand that life is complex, navigated more smoothly with a true to yourself set of values, an open heart and an adept mind.
Where did they learn this?
The truth is we don’t learn it any particular place. We’re born with our own blue print to develop, modify, adapt as circumstances and situations dictate or require. As children we’re told to “use our brains”, “go away and think about it”, and been responded to with “what on earth were you thinking!” At School we were fact orientated (Maths, Science) fed facts (History and Geography) and learned fact from fiction (English) with a mixture of boredom, mild interest and the regular relief of enjoyable extracurricular activities.
Getting an education is highly valued in our culture, reflected in the expectation that all children will attend school or some education programme between 5 – 15 years. What is considered an education has been defined through an evolutionary process of being given information to “know” through to a more creative and investigative approach. Over the last thirty years Education in schools has evolved to include a much wider curriculum, although this varies from school to school and some are little further on in terms of catering for students individual gifts, talents and unique ways of being. We all know that there are “groups” of students not being adequately attended to, and individuals who are “slipping through the cracks”. Schools are no longer just places of learning – they have become the hub of children’s mental health and social well-being. The absence of healthy living skills, social and moral awareness - once the responsibilities of parents and whanau create problems that inevitably end up at school, thus contributing to the increased social welfare component.
Much has been researched on how children learn, and innovative schools have modified their delivery to reflect this. It needs to be said however, that no matter how well a school attends to its pupils learning styles the act learning itself is hampered when it’s students mental and physical needs are compromised. We need new tools to manage new problems.
Thinking is the first chain in the link. Our behaviour is the result of how we think. Thinking is shaped by our experiences and in turn shapes our experiences. Learning follows thinking follows learning.
Thinking is crucial to effective decisions and positive outcomes. Everybody thinks, but most are unaware of how pivotal thinking is - not just in education, but life. Schools talk about learning for life. If life were the river, and the learning vehicle a raft, then thinking would be the river conditions – currents, floods and the unseen debri below the surface.
Teaching our students about thinking will provide them with insight, doorways to new perspectives, and the ability to make different choices. It will change the meaning of learning, and allow them, as the Learners to float on their own river of life with more ease.