21C Education @ Parakai School: Thinking-Based Learning to Empower our Students for Success.
At Parakai School, we teach all seven of the essential learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum. These are: English, Maths, Social Sciences, Science, Physical Education and Health, the Arts, and Technology. The children also learn the basics of Te Reo Maori.
Our aim is to provide our students with an exciting, innovative curriculum. At the heart of our curriculum is Thinking-Based Learning (TBL). This means that our students are actively taught critical and creative thinking as part of their learning. Our TBL curriculum draws upon a rich field of research and thought, in particular the works of world leaders in the teaching of thinking;
- Professor Robert Swartz, presently an emeritus faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and director of the Centre for Teaching Thinking (http://teach-think.org/)
- Art Costa, former president of ASCD, faculty member at Sacramento State University and developer of ‘The Habits of Mind’ (http://www.artcostacentre.com/index.htm)
- David Perkins, of Project Zero at Harvard University (http://www.pz.harvard.edu).
The following points underpin our current move to develop our curriculum to reflect the dynamic nature of learning and teaching in the 21st century, especially in today’s information-rich age. Our curriculum aims to:
• focus on the delivery of higher end, universal and transferable concepts, skills and strategies. An example to illustrate this in literacy is the use of our very own, unique critical literacy framework based on the 3 Level Guide. This develops student capability to be critical and deep thinking users of text.
• take place in real world contexts. This is especially evident in our Inquiry topics. These use real world scenarios and pose a challenging question that requires a solution. Specific skilful thinking skills are taught to enable the students to come up with their own unique solutions.
• enable and empower our learners to operate effectively in a modern society, to transition easily, back and forth from their personal experience and situation to their functional experience in school, home and society.
• develop specialist subject-area knowledge. This is the (content) knowledge necessary to provide the learner with the context for learning and enables the learner to engage in higher order thinking and universal, transferable concepts, skills and strategies. In other words, knowledge counts!
To develop 21st century learners we place an emphasis on the ‘6Cs’ of deep learning:
• Critical Thinking
• Character Education
Our learning philosophy places emphasis on children being at the heart of all stages of the learning process. We ensure they are aware of their own successes and individual needs. In doing so, our aim is that our children will learn to develop greater independence in their own learning now and later in life.