Thinking caps on at MCS

At MCS, the importance of thinking skills and actively seeking to ensure that these skills are being taught in all the grades is a passion and priority.

“As part of our big hairy audacious goals in becoming a ‘Thinking School’, we have selected thinking tools which enable children to organise their thoughts and make effective decisions about how to approach their work, increasingly preparing them to become independent learners,” explains headmaster Carolina van Heerden.

Why thinking skills?

With the world changing so rapidly, we don’t know what the jobs of the future will be. This prompts the question, how do we prepare our children adequately for the 21st century?

The benefits of thinking tools are:

  • Students learn more effectively and more efficiently
  • Objectives are covered in less time with greater retention
  • Thought processes are represented similarly throughout the curricula
  • It promotes integrated thinking and interdisciplinary learning
  • Teachers can easily gauge student knowledge prior to a specific lesson
  • Student performance can be tracked accurately over time
  • Students gain effective tools to use across their academic and working careers
  • Lifelong thinking tools

MCS, wants to apply for accreditation as a Thinking School with the University of Exeter in the UK. Representatives of the university will interview parents, pupils and the Drive Team and observe some lessons. They will also examine evidence files from all the teachers as well as information for the fourteen criteria necessary for accreditation.

“Our students are certainly becoming more aware of the VALUE of cognitive education for the development of their academic and interpersonal skills. Furthermore, the language of thinking is becoming more embedded in and out the classroom.”

One of the most desirable characteristics of school graduates is that they can think critically. This helps students individually and also helps the societies in which they will play a role. It’s a game in which no one loses. So why is it so difficult to achieve?

“Like a language, critical thinking is not something you can learn alone. The only thing more effective than a critically-thinking student is a critically-thinking community. MCS strives to produce a sustainable, whole-school transformation through globally tried and tested methodologies involving local communities of practice.

“To become truly great at something, you have to dedicate time and energy to it. I embrace Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset philosophy where she says this is possible through opportunity, purposeful practice and internal motivation.

“This is what we try to do at MCS. You have given the students the opportunity to attend a wonderful school and giving as many children as possible as many opportunities as possible and then encourage them to be the best that they can be in all that they do.”

Parents’ workshop
Parent buy-in is equally important. Ingrid Beekhuizen, head of academics at Kingsmead School and a TSSA facilitator will present a workshop for MCS parents on assisting and developing a Growth Mindset, introducing the Habits of Mind and implementing Bloom’s higher order thinking this coming Saturday morning in the school hall.

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