Content To Be: Creating Thinking Space in the School Day

If you’ve read the last couple of posts, you will know that I’ve been thinking about thinking for the last week or so. On Wednesday I asked my new Year 10 Religion class what the point of their Religion lessons was, and one of the many thinking they said (along with things like to understand themselves others, to accept others, to develop their critical thinking skills – they’ve obviously had good teachers previously), they said so they had time for reflection. This was quite a mature comment from a group of 14 and 15 year old boys. At the end of last term when I asked my previous class what they had enjoyed over the semester and many of them mentioned the minute of quiet time that we begin each lesson with.

On the theme of making time to reflect, as I was sat in our Academic Awards Assembly today, listening to a performance by our ‘Combined Concert Band’ (combined with our sister school), I realised that I was doing the same thing as I was doing in the concert last Thursday – allowing my mind to wander through all of the things that are at the front of my mind at the minute. I then thought that this might have been one of few moments in the school day when the students actually stop and exist just with their thoughts. The idea of just stopping and ‘being’ is not radical in our school, and our Principal has encouraged us to take moments of stillness in homeroom and in class. Of course, music gives a point of focus for the stillness, whereas in class sometimes it is easier for the students to look for a focus, which sometimes means distracting others. It is still quite powerful though, when the whole school stops and focuses its energies on being still. Moreover, we had 300 parents there, and I wonder how many of them had stopped for 5 minutes and were content just to be. (I would make a guess at none or close to it!)

Perhaps giving this thinking time – and thus creating the potential for clearing space in the midst of mystery – is one of the many benefits of school life for our students.

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