Experiences of a ‘thinking schools’ initiative: a case study of one Western Cape primary school
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In this study I researched the effectiveness of a ‘Thinking Schools’ initiative at a local primary school between April 2010 and September 2011. I looked at how the school began the journey, what has changed in the school, the contextual factors that have influenced the process and what has sustained the school’s progress. As background to the study I discuss the importance and relevance of learned intelligence as explained by Vygotsky, thinking skills and cognitive education, and the whole school approach as opposed to individual teacher initiatives, as introduced by Burden in the United Kingdom. A local adaptation of Lipman’s ‘Philosophy for Children’ was the focus of this study, as it was chosen by the school as the starting point on their road to becoming a Thinking School. A qualitative research approach was used, using a constructivist paradigm and case study methodology, following the guidelines established by Stake (1995) and Yin (2003). The participants included the principal, together with selected teachers and learners and a curriculum advisor. Data collection took the form of interviews and a rating scale. The study found positive changes in teacher and learner thinking, supported by the ethos and stability of the school environment. The major challenge was that not all stakeholders were involved.