Mr Gradgrind the stern headmaster in Dickens’ novel “Hard Times” clearly articulates the long held philosophy of teaching:
‘Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the mind of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be any serve to them’.
Education has certainly progressed from the “hard times” of the Industrial Revolution into an understanding that a focus on what students can do (skill development) is as important as knowledge. In more recent studies there is emerging a focus on thinking dispositions, incorporating critical, creative and strategic thinking. As part of Art Costa’s Habits of Mind research, there is an understanding that intelligence is not fixed and that learners can be taught what to do when they don’t immediately know an answer. This naturally involves not only a focus on what students are doing, but more significantly how teachers are interacting with their subject matter. At St Joseph’s the teaching staff have introduced the Year 7 and Year 8 students to Habits of Mind during You Will Never Walk Alone on Wednesdays. The intention was to include the key dispositions (see diagram below) into the learning experience of the students to encourage their application and understanding. As a College, we are interested in developing students’ approach to learning to enable them to become successful learners. Please take the time to read through this diagram and to consider how you might include these ideas in the conversations that you have with your son or daughter.