581 days, 22hours, 41 minutes and 43 seconds later I am sat here once again to archive my inner dialogue and to somehow articulate the privileged experience of working with the Uehiro Academy of Philosophy and Ethics in Education here in Hawaii. Having spent the past week in the company of Dr. Ben Lukey has not only been a refreshing trip down memory lane but has allowed me to observe the strides of progress the academy has made since my previous visit (i’ll save the details of that for a later blog post). As we sat there discussing the rationale for the second phase of this project, I explained my interest in exploring the synergy present in using P4C in conjunction with other pedagogies to further enhance learning and endorse active pupil engagement. I have been sharing Carol Dweck’s Mindset Theory with the academy to present my findings on integrating the two approaches.
This led to an in-depth discussion about the immense pressure faced by both teachers and pupils. At times insurmountable pressure to succumb to SMART targets, league tables, school ratings and the list goes on. I’d like to make it very clear at this point that i’m of the opinion that there should be school accountability, it is absolutely essential in order to monitor, evaluate and develop schools. However, too often I have come across individuals and whole school communities who seem to be in a constant state of perplexed anxiety fuelled by a constant stream of pressure, to the extent of practice becoming detrimental for the very pupils whom we aim to support, nurture and develop. Part of the struggle lies on the exaggerated emphasis on outcomes. In some instances, this goal orientated mindset cajoles a fixed mindset and doesn’t give pupils the essential opportunities to reflect, persevere and become not only resilient learners but resilient individuals. We owe it to the pupils in our care to provide them with ample opportunities to experience ‘failing’ in a safe environment. Their first experience of failure can not and should not be at the age of 16, 18 or 21. As educators we bear a responsibility to equip our children and youth with the vital life skills they are going to need in order to thrive and contribute to an active social community in a local, regional, national and international capacity. This is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about the importance of ‘not being in a rush’. We live in a world which is becoming increasingly ‘instant’ in multiple ways. In an academic context it can be perceived as an intellectual or social weakness if new ideas, thoughts or concepts are not understood straight away and all too often we are constrained by the tyranny of now.
In my opinion P4C and mindsets theory are some of the ways in which we can combat these issues at school level and beyond!