Nurturing Critical Thinkers and Lifelong Learners-Critical Thinkers and Lifelong Learners-Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
15 January, 2024

Nurturing Critical Thinkers and Lifelong Learners

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As the Head of Secondary School at NAIS Pudong, I am eager to share our commitment to fostering critical thinking and deep learning in the dynamic landscape of education. 

The insightful article, "Knowledge is Power," sparks a vital conversation about the role of memorisation in education, a topic resonant with our educational philosophy. Having taught Theory of Knowledge (TOK) within the International Baccalaureate (IBDP) for eight years and prior to that, delving into Critical Thinking for four years, I bring a wealth of experience in cultivating arguments and discerning reliable evidence. TOK, in particular, has empowered me as much as any self-help guidebooks, prompting a profound reflection on my knowledge and how I impart it to those around me. 

Nurturing Critical Thinkers and Lifelong Learners-Critical Thinkers and Lifelong Learners 

Preparing for University and 21st Century Life: 

In my role as a school leader, my commitment extends to ensuring our curriculum aligns seamlessly with the demands of university life and the challenges of the 21st century. To achieve this, we go beyond traditional paradigms.

Developing Understanding of Language in Persuasive Arguments: 

Despite technological advancements, language remains the fundamental link between knowledge. We continually develop an understanding of the power of language, emphasising key words, persuasive arguments, and expression. Platforms like the Debate League and debating lessons in our Key Stage 3 curriculum contribute to honing these essential skills. 

Creating Knowledge Across Contexts: 

We emphasise knowledge application across diverse subjects, fostering seamless integration. Our teachers establish close links, promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration. For instance, Mandarin and English departments collaborate on literature analysis, while Biology and Geography teachers weave in related concepts. 

Fostering Creativity and Project-Based Learning: 

We encourage creativity in using knowledge, recognising its pivotal role in innovation. Creativity is a cornerstone of our vision, with ongoing efforts to integrate it into subjects, whether through creative demonstrations of knowledge or finding inventive solutions to subject-driven challenges. Our commitment to project-based learning provides students with hands-on experiences bridging theory and application. Termly STEAM and subject-specific projects showcase how different forms of knowledge can intertwine. 

Developing Reflective Skills and Success Criteria: 

We instil the importance of reflection for self-analysis, fostering continuous improvement and self-awareness. This enables students to understand themselves as learners, optimising knowledge utilisation. Success criteria are referenced regularly, empowering students to take ownership of their learning journey, reflect on their progress, and plan their next steps.

Enhancing Mentorship and Risk-Taking:

Through mentorship programs and a culture encouraging risk-taking, we empower students to build meaningful relationships and cultivate the confidence to explore and take risks in their pursuit of knowledge. 

Providing Space for Age-Agnostic Knowledge and Competitions: 

We firmly believe that knowledge is not restricted by age. Competitions, collaborative trips, and extracurricular activities encourage collaboration and shared learning experiences among students of varying ages. These include participation in competitions such as the American Mathematics Challenge and the John Locke English competition. 

Offering Real-Life Problem-Solving Opportunities: 

Our commitment to applying knowledge to real-life problems is evident in initiatives such as Social Impact projects, Model United Nations participation, and engagement in various MIT challenges. By making learning link to the real world, we allow our students to see first-hand how powerful knowledge can indeed be. In recent weeks our students visited Tanzania, allowing them to see how much of an effect a simple thing such as smokeless stoves or a goat shed can have in changing families lives. From speaking to them on their return, I was struck by how much impact this trip had on our students.  

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As Julie Henry neatly summarises in the INSIGHTS article, “The challenge, then, is leveraging our knowledge-based education systems to foster the critical thinking skills that our students need - and that will be crucial in tackling the huge global concerns we are all facing.”  I would like to thank you for entrusting us with the privilege of shaping your child's educational experience, both inside and outside of the classroom. At NAIS Pudong, we embrace the challenge of finding innovative ways to develop our students' knowledge, ensuring they not only meet but exceed the demands of the ever-evolving world. Together, as partners in this educational journey, we are dedicated to cultivating critical thinkers, confident communicators, and lifelong learners who will make meaningful contributions to our global community. 

Written by Mr. Greg Siccardi