This week we have a guest post from Anna Riddell, Head of Girls’ Junior School and Early Learning Centre.
‘Thinking outside the box’ is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to creative thinking. It is an important concept and reflects much of the work we do with our students at Tintern. This concept is a key competency for the 21st Century workforce.
This is not exclusively for the older Tintern students but applies equally to the ELC students when they work on STEAM activities. Currently, the School is working on a most exciting project, which is getting us to ‘think outside the box’ for the benefit of students and families in Years 5 and 6. This has led to the launch of a new idea, which is quite a unique opportunity for students of this age.
For the first time in the Junior Schools we are offering an Exchange trip to Thailand. Thai students will be visiting Tintern in August. Following this, some Tintern Exchange students will visit Thailand in September.
In October and November last year, I had the honour and privilege of representing our School at two events in Bangkok. As part of these two visits, I had the good fortune of spending some quality time at the Roong Aroon School. I had the opportunity to listen and learn from the staff and students of the school as they spoke passionately about the philosophy of holistic learning, which provides the foundation of the student experience. They place great emphasis on their natural environment; they are situated on 20 acres and are located at a distance from the crowded and dense inner city. The sense of lush Asia is captured by the school’s very own rice paddy in which the students are able to learn some of the key skills of rice. Adjoining the paddy is the beautiful architecture of the school – a far cry from the noisy, polluted, downtown Bangkok.
But this school doesn’t just stop at practical engagement; the very philosophy of the school is based on the nexus between action and reflection. Indeed, the process of learning evolves doing, and the deeper learning that comes from developing the inner being, using mindfulness as a key component. There is a real sense of achieving that essential crossover between engagement with the world and exploration of the inner self.
What does that this all mean for Tintern? There are many striking parallels between the two schools. Both are located in beautiful natural surroundings; both have a rich tradition to look back to but are committed to cutting-edge exploration in the 21st century. Both have a keen appreciation of their local context but a growing awareness of global opportunities. These two visits to Bangkok stimulated my interest in international education. There seemed to be enormous potential for developing international links with schools in other countries, which are like-minded in many ways yet are sufficiently different to allow great opportunity for growth and development.
Since those visits, we have established a strong link with the Roong Aroon School. We now have ten Year 5 and 6 students (boys and girls) who will be visiting Thailand later this year. There is no doubt that these students and their families are ‘thinking outside the box’. Like any skill, this is one that can be developed through practice. These students are doing just that!
The lesson here? Think broadly. Don’t discount things that seem unconnected. The benefits to your thinking can be tremendous and exciting and possibly life-changing opportunities can arise!
by Anna Riddell, Head of Girls’ Junior School and Early Learning Centre