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28 November 2019

Head's Message Friday 29 November 2019

Heads Message Friday 29 November 2019

The Time-honoured Skill of Critical Thinking – The Benefits to Our Children

Throughout the centuries, philosophers and educators have extolled the benefits of critical thinking. So, what is it that makes it such a time honoured skill set, and in what ways does critical thinking truly benefit the children at The Hampshire School Chelsea?

If critical thinking involves children thinking deeply and being inquisitive in their learning, then it would appear that critical thinking is thriving at The Hampshire School Chelsea. There is no doubt that our pupils are judiciously curious. Our Early Years children lead the way taking risks in their learning, exploring ideas through their purposeful play and are experts in asking questions; they go beyond the “what?” to asking “how?” and “why?” Our Growth Mindset ethos ensures that as the children progress through the school, the skills of self-reflecting and verbalising the steps in problem-solving are commonplace. I love dropping into lessons and frequently witness the pupils asking: What’s happening? What am I seeing? What is affected by this? What am I missing? Where did this come from? How do I know for sure? What else should I consider? They confidently use the ‘what if, how and why’ questions; they just never stop asking questions!

During recent tours of the school, prospective parents commented on how confident the children are when thinking critically about their knowledge. Knowledge remains foundational and to be able to think deeply and be critical in their thinking they have to first master a body of knowledge; that is why our curriculum is broad as well as having depth. The timetabled Pupil Voice Time (PVT) and special occasions such as the UN Day Assembly and mini United Nations debates offer opportunities for our pupils to develop their critical thinking skills, which, as a timetabled lesson from Year 4, supports their progress in the Prep School.

Critical thinking is a life skill that involves mastery and practice just like everything else. If we want our children to have flexible minds that can readily absorb new information and respond to complex problems we need to be proactive in developing their higher order skills. The skills that they apply to problems and texts, the capacity to understand arguments, to make sense of their strengths and weaknesses, and to offer new and creative solutions requires a particular habit of mind. If a child finds it difficult to express themselves through discussion, then we can provide opportunities to use the arts for expression.

Critical thinking is evident in all that we do at The Hampshire School Chelsea and this time-honoured skill is improving outcomes for all. We can all improve and support critical thinking by asking a few extra questions each day.

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The Hampshire School Chelsea

15 Manresa Road, Chelsea
London, SW3 6NB

Tel: +44[0] 207 352 7077