Let's Think at Ruislip High School

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Dr. Martina Lecky is the Headteacher of Ruislip High School. Martina has had a long involvement with Let’s Think, one that resulted in a doctoral study supervised by Professor Philip Adey. In this post she shares her views on the ongoing value of Let’s Think to her as a school leader.

Each year my school has one of its seven core values as a theme for the year. This academic year it is integrity and I will use this as the basis for my first assembly of the year.

My twenty-five years of involvement with CASE has been my one constant in a career of relentless change, most notably government-led curriculum and assessment reforms. I believe one of the tenets of the cognitive acceleration (CA) approach has been the moral purpose of the educationists involved to understand the classroom environment that promotes an authentic, long-term enhancement in students’ powers of reasoning.

Neuroscience continues to provide empirical evidence for the brain’s plasticity; this supports Shayer and Adey’s conjecture that the environment is one of the key factors that influences cognitive development. I therefore remain committed to encouraging and facilitating professional development in teachers that develops their understanding of the methodology that accelerates students’ ability to form new constructs through an alteration in their brains’ neurological functions. I believe this is a moral imperative, especially when too many debates are presented and argued on a dichotomous basis, relying on reasoning at a concrete level.

I recently had to prepare for a conference which involved consideration of how metacognition is promoted in Let’s Think lessons. It was an interesting journey to consider English, mathematics and science lessons and how they encourage students to consider consciously their cognitive journey with a specific reasoning pattern. Metacognition is hard and often slow thinking. It reminded me that I have often experienced the most fruitful reflective discussion with students on a reasoning pattern at the beginning of the next lesson when the previous one’s context is a useful opening stimulus.

One of my favourite CASE lessons is activity 18; with its high cognitive demand on the reasoning pattern of probability, I have found students benefit from a period of time to consider probability especially where the number of outcomes is not readily obvious. Metacognition allows students to articulate consciously the challenge and possible changes in their thinking; this cognitive activity is arguably one of the most important aspects of cognitive development.

At a time of global uncertainty, I believe there is a moral imperative to educate our students to be conscious of the reasoning that underpins their beliefs and to be willing to be challenged on the preconceptions of our complex existence. I can express, however, with great certainty that CA and LT lessons will continue to provide the platform to facilitate and promote students’ ability for self-regulation and willingness to engage in challenging discourse.