This March a group of teachers from Lithuania (Alytus St Benedict‘s Gymnasium and Vilnius Salininkai Gymnasium) had a wonderful opportunity to observe how philosophy of the Thinking Schools approach works in reality.
As part of the European Social Fund project “I am creating the lessons and my future myself“, teachers from Lithuanain schools visited three schools in England and saw the many advantages that Thinking Schools can offer education.
The first school we visited was Barton Court Grammar School in Canterbury. This school became an accredited Thinking School by Exeter University in 2015 and the Thinking School Co-ordinator explained and demonstrated the whole journey to the accreditation. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and the warmth of staff and students when they spoke about different tools they used in the lessons. We also observed a few lessons and identified a wide range of thinking tools- Thinking Maps, Thinking Hats , Thinkers‘ Keys that had been mastered by both teachers and students.
The second school we visited was Rochester Grammar School. From the very first steps at this school we were excited about the abundance of examples of thinking tools - they were everywhere: in the classrooms (that was obvious) , in the staff room, in the corridors.
The use of visual aids made a great impression but we were absolutely amazed after meeting the Drive Team in this school. The enthusiasm and competences of the students here made us really believe in the Thinking School approach. During the 'learning tour' we were accompanied by students and they explained everything that was happening in the lessons and answered all the questions in a really sophisticated way that showed that principles of a Thinking School were really understood and valued. Students emphasised that after implementing the approach the educational results highly improved.
The third school we visited - Leventhorpe Secondary School in Sawbridge was supposed to be different from the previous ones, as it was a non-selective school and a beginner in implementing thinking tools. Surprisingly, meeting with the members of Drive Team left a very good impression too- students stated that they already felt positive changes not only in their results but in the methods of learning and teaching as well, they became more responsible and more motivated than before. The Drive Team demonstrated some tools they used to make the Thinking School aproach run smoothly.
At the end of the visit we had a warm meeting with Richard Cummins, CEO of Thinking Matters, who had accompanied us for all three days. Having listened to and discussed all the ideas and impressions, Richard encouraged us to bring new ideas to our schools, share them with the colleagues and put the new aproach into practice. Although we are only beginners in the journey to becoming a Thinking School, we see the benefits of applying thinking tools and with some help from Thinking School trainer Giedrė Lečickienė we will also help our students to learn and understand the world more efficiently.