Thinking’s power unleashed

St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead is on a journey to create a “culture of thinking” after international speaker Simon Brooks facilitated a one-day course to staff last year and then returned recently for a second day to present and inspire.

Cultures of thinking is defined as “places where a group’s collective as well as individual thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular, day-to-day experience of all group members”. The concept draws on the research of Ron Ritchhart at Harvard University, which shows that when schools become cultures of thinking, the learning of all members improves.

For teachers at St Paul’s, cultures of thinking means we value the thinking of every child in our classrooms, from Kinder to Year 6, knowing that thinking leads to learning. We value thinking by making time for thinking, using language that values thinking and prompts deeper thinking, making our own thinking and that of the students visible, and using classroom routines that encourage thinking.

On Friday 14 February, Mr Brooks, an expert on cultures of thinking, reminded us of the research behind the concept, engaged us in a number of thinking routines, and prompted us to reflect on how our classroom practice allows children to show their thinking and value the thinking of their classmates.

Mr Brooks will return four times throughout the year to work with teachers to create better cultures of thinking within their classrooms.

The days with him are very engaging. As cultures of thinking is not an add-on to the curriculum, just a better way of engaging children in their learning, teachers come away ready to improve their classroom practice immediately. I look forward to having him return to work closely with teachers in their own classrooms, improving the learning of all children.

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