are the Six Rs and the Six Ways of Thinking:
With fewer subjects to cover, the junior class follows the Six Rs which are: reading, writing, 'rithmatic, researching, retelling and reasoning. These approaches are combined as much as possible so that children can intergate their learning. The first three Rs are common enough, but they are not enough for the student of tomorrow. Researching is about finding stuff out and differentiating between quality information and those ideas not backed up by the evidence. Retelling is about sharing ideas, concepts and information in ways that are both orthodox and/or novel. A person who can reason can appreciate different points of view, and make sensible arguments for their own.
The Six Rs approach does extend into the senior class. However, the senior class curriculum has many more subjects than the juniors, and to teach these in an authentic way we have developed our own Six Ways of Thinking which are: (1) Thinking with Language, (2) Thinking Mathematically, (3) Thinking Aesthetically, (4) Thinking Scientifically, (5) Thinking Systematically and, (6) Situated Thinking.
(1) Thinking with Language:
The acquisition of language is arguably the most critical skill a student can take on. The lifelong cost of illiteracy is high. Reading is a fundamental part of primary school teaching and reading ability explains 40% of test score variability. High achieving students read three times as much as low achieving students. Here’s something to think about. To finish in the top 2, 10 and 30% of readers, individual students need to read for 67, 33, and 17 minutes a day respectively. The other side of the coin to reading is writing. Long complex texts require organisation and structure and with skill, knowledge and technique we can inform and entertain others and, more importantly, frame our own thinking. It is one of the most cognitively demanding activities humans undertake. At Zeerust we inlcude English, languages other than English (Japanese), and history under the umbrella of thinking with language.
(2) Thinking Mathematically:
Unlike all the other ways of thinking shared here, which are more about frameworks and approaches, learning mathematics is so conceptual, so centred upon the student, that they must set the pace for their own learning. Pushing an idea onto the child before they are ready to hear it, or before they have mastered the previous big idea in the chain is absurd. We use the on-line Mathletics course to deliver a large proportion of content which the children tackle this at their own pace. We have grade 4 students working through grade 6 material and grade 3s working on grade 2. Each child can be individually tutored by their peers or by their teacher. We use diagnostic testing to uncover conceptual weaknesses and teach these in depth. Inummeracy has an adverse impact on a person's life we smply must do all we can to prevent it from happening.
(3) Thinking Aesthetically:
Thinking aesthetically is about appreciation. Appreciation of the final product, the process of making that final product, and the thinking that went into the idea for that product. Of course this appreciation may be positive or negative and there is nothing amiss about that but what is important is being able to verbalise this appreciation. We specifically teach this way of thinking through music, drama, the visual arts, information technology and technology, but other subjects can also generate aesthetic moments like a work of literature, a mathematical proof, an experiment in science, or a natural phenomenon.
(4) Thinking Scientifically:
The major idea you have to get across to your students is that scientists can change their mind, and are expected to, in the face of new evidence. And this is the strength of science, not the weakness. The reason scientists think like this is because of the scientific method. This is a formal process where problems are tackled in a particular way. Thinking scientifically is about making observations from the evidence they themselves gather. Thinking scientifically is about trying to control the variables, thus seeing the impact of just one or two factors. In the senior class the students study biology, chemistry and physics over a three-year cycle.
(5) Thinking Systematically:
Systems can be either manmade or natural. Systems are self-regulating and work via complex feedback mechanisms, and attempt to maintain their equilibrium. Too much or too little feedback sees the system break down. Thinking systematically is all about the big picture. Yes, events can and do happen which may affect us personally but more often than not we are but a small part of a much larger context. The four subjects making up this way of thinking are: (1) Civics & citizenship, (2) Economics, (3) Environmental education and, (4) Geography. These four subjects really hang together and complement each other. They could be easily integrated into thick question topics requiring an interdisciplinary response. It’s so not surprising really as in some educational jurisdictions these topics would be called social studies.
(6) Situated Thinking:
I have taken the term, situated thinking, to mean learning aimed at lifting the capacity for individuals to survive and thrive in the real world without outside assistance. It’s about getting your students ready for their life as a citizen. Subjects like financial literacy, health and PE, and home economics, find their way into this way of thinking. Situated thinking requires children to be active rather than passive and think about the world from the inside out. Its about the small picture.
I hope you can appreciate how our approach engages children in many different ways. Some ways address strengths while others ameliorate weaknesses. Its about the whole child.