Here at ThoughtBox, we believe in the importance of critical thinking and empathy building: challenging our young people to question their opinions, values and assumptions and (when necessary) to “unlearn” ideas in order to allow new understandings of seemingly familiar issues to emerge.
Every school in England must now promote SMSC within their curriculum and environment, a requirement that is particularly important to the school regulatory board Ofsted.
According to Ofsted, SMSC Education should allow students to “explore beliefs and experience; respect faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity and reflect.”
Our lesson plans and curricular have been crafted to support the governmental outlines for SMSC provision, and your school will be provided with a document outlining how each curriculum topic is meeting the SMSC targets.
Beyond governmental obligation, ThoughtBox believes in the inherent value of these core developments within us all, and we promote their importance within all of our lessons. Our unique curriculum has been specifically tailored to promote and to challenge learning and personal growth with students practising their spiritual, moral, social and cultural growth within lessons. Part of the SMSC focus encourages students to develop and reflect upon their personal values and beliefs – a core part of the ‘unlearning’ ethos.
So often, learning within a formalised school system isn’t able to give students the time or space to simply think: to contemplate what they are learning; what it may mean to them and why.
Time is a limiting factor within classroom learning and often reflection is left to the students to do elsewhere. Here at ThoughtBox, we believe in the fundamental importance to us all, as humans, to be able to think for ourselves. The question “Why?” may well be one of the most important words which we use: it allows us to stop, reflect, consider and respond with meaning and understanding.
Our curriculum has been designed without a rigid end goal; simply as a tool to engage students’ minds. Being able to look at an issue and pause, reflect and consider is a tremendously valuable skill; understanding that there is often no “right way” to see something is part of empathy building and a way for students to learn to tolerate difference in opinion and belief. Although Critical Thinking can be taken as a subject within schools, it is often not factored into curricular, and so ThoughtBox programmes have been designed to give students:
- The opportunity to slow down their learning
- The time to reflect and reconsider the question “why?”
- The space to grow and shape their own thoughts about the world around them, developing the skill of thoughtfulness.
Learning in formal lessons often has an end goal; a “right answer” or a correct way of seeing things. The reality is that life just isn’t like that.
In life, there are a hundred thousand answers to our daily questions; each of us channeling our own thoughts about what is right, what is wrong, which way is up, which way down. ThoughtBox allows students to see the world through different eyes; to challenge feelings of empathy and to encourage new ways of thinking. Building empathy is a vital skill for a globalised world; being able to live harmoniously within our environment being crucial to a successful future.
Being empathic is a skill, and as such requires practice. Learning to walk around in someone else’s shoes for a while to see how life feels helps us to try to understand how other people live in the world, and why their views may be different to our own. Learning to be a successful global citizen in the rapidly changing world requires us to be empathetic. Here at ThoughtBox, we highly value the skill of empathy and see it as part of the core learning objective within our programmes and curriculum content.
An innovative thinker once said: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
Here at ThoughtBox we value the importance of unlearning. We see this style of learning as one of the most crucial ways for us all, as humans, to live, grow and adapt successfully with the ever-changing world around us. There is no shame in changing your mind; no negative in casting aside old knowledge when it needs to be “updated”; no failure in relearning how to see the world. In fact, it is a sign of wisdom to be able to have the courage to rethink and change our thoughts. After all, there is no finality in thinking.
Our flexible curriculum is designed to challenge opinions; to allow students to re-think and re-learn how they see the world, engaging in discussions and learning to ask questions, rather than memorising answers; encouraging thoughtfulness and empathy at every turn.