Did we ever imagine that this is how the world would be today? While we were gloating over artificial intelligence, robotics, and self-driving vehicles across our global village, something as microscopic as the Coronavirus has made the world come to a halt where even the business cannot be as usual. The year 2020 is here but we are living in VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) times! Change has been a paradox of both positive and negative elements bringing some convenient progress but at the same time some other regressing ill effects, too. Phenomenal technological changes have disrupted the world and some have even collapsed several secured, decade-old establishments. Luckily, quite a few managed to evolve into something better.
When it comes to our sustenance, many of us find ourselves going back to old-fashioned ways of the “way it used to be,” nature and grandma’s recipes for our own good. When industries consumed the plant’s resources, nature pushed back with climate changes and consequences that we're currently suffering from. The father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, professed that - The world has enough for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed.
For long, in the education circles, we knew that it is impossible to predict what kind of a world our children will grow up into but with VUCA, this has been even more potent. The focus now is to help students thrive as global citizens of the 21st century. Einstein quoted, “Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind.”
Last year, I had the chance to go to Harvard again and attend Project Zero for the second time. My courses there, focused on, “Creating a Culture of Thinking” based on Harvard’s senior researcher, Ron Ritchart’s work. His three core ideas emphasized on:
a) The need for schools to develop students’ thinking dispositions
b) Making student’s thinking visible
c) The critical role of the class culture to support and shape learning.
Our Strategy in Action team of instructional leaders was trained by me personally to instruct rest of the faculty on these core ideas, week after week over the course of one year, which I am going to share.
At Glendale, 'teaching with the brain in mind' has always been emphasized through my book, ABCs of Brain Compatible Learning. These teaching principles overlap with Bass’s (1993) work on Transformational Leadership as the four I’s - Intellectual Stimulation, Individualized Attention, Idealized Influence and Intrinsic Motivation. It was serendipitous to find that Culture of Thinking not only reinforces the four Is but it also reiterates what I shared in the chapters of my book. For example, for classrooms to be cultures of thinking for students, schools must be Cultures of Thinking for Teachers.
If we support and empower the adults in the school to continually grow, innovate, question, take risks, reflect, examine, inquire and learn from and with one another then teachers will also create those same conditions for the students in their classrooms.
At Glendale, it has always been my sincere effort to learn from the best institutions across the globe and then transfer that learning to our institutions and the rest of the education fraternity. My instructional leaders learn from me in our Strategy in Action (SIA) meetings, model this learning to the rest of the faculty who then ensure that this learning percolates down to our students. This chain of modelling and percolation works 360 degrees in transforming our entire organization into a hub where the culture of thinking is constantly nurtured and nourished. This is what 'Idealized Influence' is and we are constantly trying to develop this X-factor in teachers that I talk about in my book. All this in order for the students to develop the right thinking dispositions.
The greatest legacy that we can leave behind for our future generation is to help them become independent and self-directed learners who can thrive in any situation by virtue of their adaptability as thinkers. As the proverb goes “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” In the face of VUCA, it is the need of the hour to wake up to a world led by powerful thinking and thinkers as we cultivate their character and competence to be global citizens of the 21st century.
For more information, please check out anjumbabukhan.com or Glendale.edu.in.
About the author
Anjum Babukhan, Director, Glendale Academy, Hyderabad
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