In 2017, Roedean School (SA) gained accreditation from Gr 0 to Gr 12 as a Thinking School with the University of Exeter (UK). It is the first school in South Africa to have achieved accreditation in both the Junior and Senior schools. Careful planning and a strong commitment from the staff has ensured the successful and meaningful integration of thinking skills into the academic curriculum. Professor Lena Green, in her report to the University of Exeter, stated that:
“…the active mediation of thinking throughout the school has given many girls a ‘confident voice’ and made it more likely that girls will understand their role in the world and the choices available to them. Being aware of their own thinking dispositions and processes and possessing a repertoire of ‘thinking tools’ was perceived as important in preparing girls to “lead a life of significance”, which is a key goal of education at Roedean.”
Roedean has embraced Carol Dweck’s premise of a Growth Mindset. It states that when we believe that intelligence can grow because the brain is malleable, our behaviours change as well. Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind are 16 thinking dispositions that describe the characteristics of intelligent behaviour and are integral to developing a Growth Mindset. This overarching strategy permeates all areas of school life.
“… the active mediation of thinking throughout the school has given many girls a ‘confident voice’ and made it more likely that girls will understand their role in the world and the choices available to them”.
Roedean pupils are encouraged to develop 21st Century thinking skills such as:
- developing the ability to ask perceptive and thoughtful questions;
- developing higher order thinking skills, such as analysing, justifying, evaluating, and creating;
- using a range of thinking tools such as Hyerle’s Thinking Maps, De Bono’s Six Hats and Visible Thinking strategies developed by Harvard University’s Project Zero.
Professor Bob Burden described a Thinking School as:
“An educational community in which all members share a common commitment to giving regular careful thought to everything that takes place. This involves both students and staff learning how to think reflectively, critically and creatively, and employing these skills and techniques in the co-construction of a meaningful curriculum and associated activities. Successful outcomes are reflected in students across a wide range of abilities, demonstrating independent and co-operative learning skills, high levels of achievement and both enjoyment and satisfaction in learning. Benefits will be shown in ways in which all members of the community interact with and show consideration for each other and in the positive psychological well-being of both students and staff.”
Roedean School (SA) is proud to have achieved Thinking School status and is starting to see the benefits of the Cognitive Education Programme. As Jennica Frost (Upper V, Grade 10) stated: “For many, we are told facts and have to accept them blindly, but when the element of thinking, and especially thinking critically, is introduced we are not only encouraged to question the school environment and previously accepted fact, but the system questions the things we thought we knew were fact as well. Only through this metacognition can we begin to truly discover what is right and wrong for ourselves and our school. This extended thinking can lead us all to become creators of the future, because we all have it in us to be critical thinkers and through questioning our environment we can develop ourselves critically.”