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News from Deputy Head of Primary, Michael Waterhouse

23 March 2015

“Make them think!” Various methods and systems have been tried over the years in different countries but the perfect curriculum still has yet to be discovered. The English National Curriculum values numeracy and literacy and has often been praised for making children think about processes rather than teaching them by rote.  This has developed critical thinking in students and enables them to think tangentially or “outside the box”.  Even so, the English National Curriculum is set for another review as we adjust and fine tune the focus to try and continue to prepare our children for the future.

When NEW CURRICULUMS are introduced it worries us all but in reality nothing changes much, it is only more fine tuning, Numeracy and Literacy always remain as core subjects. The problem is that we don’t want to reduce skills, which take time to learn, in favour of critical thinking, which also takes time to learn, and we certainly don’t want to reduce critical thinking.  So what gives way? Reading story books?  Art?  Music?

A recent report has found that reading stories creates a foundation in a child’s mind for all sorts of logical thinking. Good against bad, ridiculous against feasible, funny against sad, and it helps them to explore the contradictions that occur when the margins between opposites blur. Books make children think! Art and Music also makes them think.

 We have always known that someone with a trade or skill is set up for life, but in our modern, fast moving world is that still true?  We don’t know what skills our children will need in 20 years’ time. We’ve only had cell phones for about 20 years, what will we have in another 20?

 The best thing we can do for our children is to make them adaptable. They need to be numerate and critical thinkers, able to analyse their environment and develop appropriate skills for what is needed at the time. Shockingly, things are moving so fast, they may need to change their career (or skill) several times in their working lives!  The best we can do for this generation to prepare them, is to hone their thinking skills, challenge them.….”Make them think!”