MindBurst Workshop's primary aims are:
- to support schools in the process of integrating transferable skills into their curricula, teaching practice, assessment and school culture;
- to provide training and materials that improve the professional skills of teachers, especially with regards to critical thinking, productive dialogue, project-based learning, integrated studies, inclusive education and diversity literacy;
- to enable learners to become independent thinkers, who solve unfamiliar problems, by integrating critical thinking skills, creative innovation, clear communication and dynamic collaboration into their personal experience of the world.
The Critical Outcomes in the National Curriculum Statement (South Africa) form the foundation of the entire curriculum. If you read them carefully (found in chapter 1 of all subject curricula), you will see how every one of these outcomes refers to a range of creative and critical thinking skills. The Critical Outcomes in the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 aims to produce learners that are able to:
- identify and solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking;
- work effectively as individuals and with others as members of a team;
- organise and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively;
- collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information;
- communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various modes;
- use science and technology effectively and critically showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others; and
- demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem solving contexts do not exist in isolation.
These Critical Outcomes remain the most important goal, and as such give a clear mandate for creative and critical thinking skills. It is the teacher’s responsibility to identify opportunities for exploring and reinforcing them – even if they are not explicitly stated elsewhere in the curriculum documents.
MindBurst’s mission is to go beyond the content of our curricula and equip our teachers and learners with the transferable skills they need to engage any content to their advantage – enabling them to think critically and creatively, communicate clearly, collaborate dynamically and adapt to change with as little anxiety as possible.
We call these transferable skills because they are not limited to a specific context. They can be transferred from subject to subject, from language to language, from electives to the core, from informal learning in the community to formal learning at school, from working things out in class to working them out in your personal relationships, and so on.
The way schools teach and assess learners tends to be content-heavy and focuses on narrow criteria for success. This is not a great model when it comes to assessing the kinds of higher-order thinking skills necessary for the innovation that is valued in our knowledge economy and will ensure livelihoods in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
To prepare young people for sustainable and meaningful lives in the 21st century our teaching practice needs to:
- move beyond a focus on content …
… towards facilitating transferable skills
required to deal with any content
- move beyond assessing rote memory…
… towards trial-and-error learning
with an experimental attitude that does not fear failure
- move beyond top-down instruction and the reproduction of inherited knowledge ...
... towards bottom-up discovery of knowledge
enabling learners to become agents of their own knowledge production
- move beyond a focus on correct answers …
… towards empowering learners to ask generative and disruptive questions
that challenge assumptions and open up possibility
- move beyond discrete subject areas ...
... towards exploring the connections between subjects
transferring knowledge from one context to another and enabling systemic thinking
- move beyond competition between individual learners
and the occasional reluctant cooperation ...
... towards dynamic collaboration
and the development of collective intelligence through dialogue
- move beyond the extrinsic motivation of marks, rankings and awards (according to narrow criteria and standardised tests) ...
... towards a learner's intrinsic motivation
stimulating the learner’s curiosity, independent agency,
need for purpose in the service of something larger than themselves,
desire to get better at something important to them,
and deep sense of participation
- move beyond social cohesion based on reinforcing uniformity ...
... towards social cohesion based on engaging diversity