Brisbane Grammar School’s purpose is to “educate boys within a strong learning culture that is innovative yet respectful of its traditions, by nurturing their intellectual, physical and emotional wellbeing to become thoughtful and confident men of character who contribute to their communities.”
With this as a stimulus, we have embarked on an exciting and ambitious project that supports our mission. From 2021, all BGS students in Years 7 and 8 will undertake a new and innovative foundational subject titled Applied Thinking.
BGS students have always developed an understanding of the learning process and the essential skills to learn across various disciplines and contexts. However, this new subject will aim to make this focus more explicit, universal and transferable at what is a critical stage of a young man’s development.
Applied Thinking offers students the opportunity to consolidate and build on understandings developed previously and receive meaningful feedback as they develop.
Increasingly capable of abstract thought, Years 7 and 8 students will emerge from this subject better equipped to operate as independent and self-regulated learners in Year 9 and beyond. The ambition in laying these foundations is that the new understanding and skills will assist students through their learning well beyond the School’s gates.
One of the School’s stated goals is to “develop attitudes, skills, and a base of knowledge as a foundation for critical intelligence, imaginative and creative powers, effective communication and the capacity and enthusiasm for independent, lifelong learning.” In this respect, Applied Thinking will address three key areas:
- Cognitive development – student engagement in inquiry, open-ended problem solving and the evaluation of thinking. This includes the enhancement of key skills in areas such as questioning, note-making, visual representation, argumentation and the use of evidence.
- Metacognitive development – understandings about how humans learn, the adoption of a shared language of learning and the development of self-awareness and regulation.
- Dispositional maturity– the development of key dispositions for learning which aid self-regulation and include a willingness to analyse alternative perspectives.
While the course is being constructed by a small dedicated team of Middle School teachers, it is informed by the collective experience of BGS staff. We have drawn on what we have learned during the home-based learning period, as well as the broader experiences gained from our transition to the new Queensland Certificate of Education system.
It is also heavily influenced by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s (ACARA) articulation of cross-disciplinary “General Capabilities” that are to be developed in all students.
The value of these skills will be evident as BGS students transfer their understanding across other subjects, contexts and time frames. We are excited about the progress of our development of Applied Thinking.
Acting Head of Middle School