Albert Einstein said education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.
This year we at Pecanwood Prep encourage, among other things, reflective thinking, application of knowledge to new situations and engaging our pupils in thought-provoking debates and activities.
One of the most important core skills we can give our children is the ability to think critically and apply their know-
ledge. Learning parrot fashion is useful for remembering facts, but has little use in the real world. Understanding a concept and applying it to a variety of situations has far more benefit.
We achieve this in the Preparatory School by encouraging critical thinking, using a variety of techniques to add depth to learning, including the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy i.e. creating, evaluating, analysing, applying, understanding and remembering. Formal assessments are set with a view to a certain percentage of the questions being higher order thinking and application.
These assessments prepare our grade 6 pupils for the IEB core skills assessments which are written annually. This percentage increases from grade 1 through to grade 7, as preparation for high school where higher order questions can make up to 40% of the total assessment.
Another important core skill is the ability to research, to find and extract relevant information. In the age of technology, where information is at your fingertips, it’s important that children learn how to make sense of it all. It needs to be collated into an order that is understandable to the child and the audience.
Following on from research is the ability to communicate. Once you have made findings and have something to share, it is critical that you relay the information clearly to your peers. We have enhanced communication in our classes by making use of Kagan’s structures, where children feel safe to communicate and feed back in a small group. Communication takes on many different forms and children are encouraged to share both orally and in the written form across various platforms.
Social skills are necessary to open the lines of communication.
This core skill is enhanced again by the Kagan’s Structures within our classes, teaching children to be fair, to take turns and to listen to one another.
Last, but not least, is the very real skill of being able to self-manage. Can the children behave responsibly, complete and submit work on time and take charge of their own learning? We encourage frequent self-reflection.
What are we doing essentially? Preparing children for life. The academic strategy for this year was the introduction of an integrated project through the grades, with the aim of promoting core skills necessary for life “on the outside”.
by Katie de Chaves, head: Academics at Pecanwood Preparatory