Good day Parents, Caregivers and Friends,
It has been just over a year since I accepted the privilege of leading our group with all the incidental joys and challenges. We have reached several milestones on this journey and I want to thank everyone who played their part from our staff to parents and pupils.
After much research and discussion (by our senior leaders and staff), we are now about to engage in another historic milestone for the KS Group, namely, the introduction of the ‘Thinking Schools’ teaching and learning methodology; and a consequence, each of our schools will become a Thinking School. So what is a Thinking School? I will attempt to elucidate with the following.
The first decade of the 21st Century has witnessed the beginnings of a mini-revolution in curriculum planning and delivery in most schools in western countries. Tired of the constricting demands of an over-prescriptive curriculum and the invidious requirements of teaching to national or international assessments, many within the teaching profession have become conscious of the transformational nature of cognitive approaches to learning as an alternative to transmission-based teaching, even here in our corner of the universe. The ideas of such luminaries as Matthew Lipman, Edward de Bono and Reuven Feuerstein, previously considered to be ‘on the fringe’ of educational thinking, have increasingly come to be seen as offering valuable insights into the fundamental connection between thinking and learning. Also, to note is that attempts to introduce thinking skills into schools are certainly not new. As far back as the mid-1980s an OECD report emphasised the need for schools to produce more independent thinkers and problem-solvers, a demand repeated more recently by the World Bank amongst others.
The definition of a thinking school that emerged is ‘an educational community in which all members share a common commitment to giving regular, careful thought to everything that takes place’. This will involve learning how to think, reflectively, critically and creatively, and to employing these skills and techniques in the co-construction of a meaningful curriculum and associated activities. Successful outcomes will be reflected in pupils 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 also be shown in ways which all members of the community interact with and show consideration for each other and in the positive psychological well-being of both pupils and staff.
It is essential to note that in becoming a Thinking School, a school-wide and group-wide approach will be necessary whereby all stakeholders (staff, pupils, parents and Board) are fully committed to the school’s (and group’s) aims and how they can best be achieved. Thus, staff will receive the necessary professional development to make a success of this. In fact, we will have a full day planned in September 2014 and a follow-up session in early January 2015. Furthermore, we will share pertinent information with our parents as we travel this fantastic journey. No doubt, a great deal of hard work lies ahead for all of us but support will be there every step of the way.
I am delighted, thrilled and super keen to be with you on this journey, to share the joys and provide support through the challenges. No doubt this is a win-win situation for all our stakeholders, and never should we forget that we are doing this for our children, the future of South Africa and the world. Furthermore, our Board is fully committed to KSG schools becoming ‘Thinking Schools’. So there is nothing that can stop us in achieving this goal.
As a final thought, Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘the future depends on what you (we) do today’ – and as our children deserve the best possible start in life, Kyalami Schools will now have another proven strategy to assist pupils in building a firm foundation for a bright future.
A member of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA), Independent Examination Board (IEB),
Southern African Heads of Independent Schools Association (SAHISA). Accredited by Umalusi
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