At King’s, our approach to teaching is based on Building Learning Habits - an extensive body of research into learning and the brain based on the pioneering work of Professor Guy Claxton. It is designed to help young people to become better learners by developing their portable learning skills and preparing them for a lifetime of learning.
At King’s, we have identified five learning habits that we plan to deliberately develop during lessons alongside the usual subject content.
- Collaborating: teamwork, listening skills, empathy (the social element of learning)
- Resilience: emotional toughness when dealing with situations pupils find difficult
- Reasoning: being careful, methodical and logical (the cognitive element of learning)
- Questioning: having lively, enquiring minds to ask good questions and then investigate them and be prepared to challenge ideas.
- Reflecting: learning from mistakes and successes to improve continually and to plan ahead (the strategic element of learning)
Through planned activities and learning events, we are developing these underlying habits within pupils alongside our subject content. The anticipated benefits of Building Learning Habits are:
- raised achievement
- increased motivation
- increased enjoyment in learning
- established habits of lifelong learning
- enhanced creativity
- greater confidence and independence in pupils
For more information, see Building Learning Power and Guy Claxon.com.
Critical Thinking is a timetabled subject on the curriculum for Year 7 and 8 pupils. Lessons last year engaged pupils in debating thought-provoking subjects such as the monarchy and its role; developing ideas relating to creating their own country; reading and discussing texts which explore injustice and reflecting on injustice in their own lives; as well as saving the planet.
The response to our introduction of Critical Thinking and King’s Learning Habits has been extremely positive, with great enthusiasm for them shown by both staff and pupils.
Research has shown that the introduction of CASE (Cognitive Acceleration through Science Education) as part of King’s ‘thinking curriculum’, has had a significant impact on improving pupils’ thinking skills.
CASE has improved our students’ cognitive growth and helped them achieve thinking levels equivalent to those of students much older. Analysis of pupils’ thinking levels at the end of Year 8, after two years following the CASE programme, shows that their thinking ability levels are well above the national average for this age group. In fact, the average thinking level for our Year 8 pupils is the same as an average 18-year old student who hasn’t followed CASE. Data shows that the mean thinking level of our pupils has increased by 1.48 levels in just under two years, compared with a national average increase of 0.5 levels for pupils not following CASE.
CASE was developed by King’s College London as a way to challenge students to construct knowledge co-operatively which encourages ‘metacognition’ - students’ reflection on their own thinking and problem-solving processes. Evaluation has repeatedly shown that Cognitive Acceleration has substantial, positive effects on students’ cognitive growth and their subsequent academic achievement.