Last week as a part of the Board of Trustees for the Annie Wright School, Board members had the chance to tour a division of the school. I was fortunate to go on a wonderful walking tour with Ann Dicks, Director of Lower School. Annie Wright School is an International Baccalaureate World School and offers IB curricula to students from Preschool to Grade 12. As the school states in its IB Mission: The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Central to how the Lower School manifests the IB education, Ann shared with us, is through student agency: choice, voice and ownership.
Since that tour I have been musing about the framing of choice, voice and ownership. Especially in light of the school’s larger mission of inquiry, knowledge, and caring, to create a more peaceable world through intercultural understanding and respect. And I have been inspired that at the core of this paradigm is the intentional emphasis on critical thinking. This seems vital, because in my experience when critical thinking is not employed there is a greater risk that one’s words and actions may be impulsive, unexamined and unaware of impact.
Critical thinking on the other hand engages a comprehensive level of inquiry:
Choice: Do I make decisions that are well informed and thoughtfully discerned. Or am I making decisions out of haste, not checking my scripting or historical bias or unfiltered external influences.
Voice: Do I actually think before speaking. Have I intentionally listened to others’ viewpoint, while not just regurgitating their voice, but rather synthesizing it into my own perspective.
Ownership: Do I take full responsibility for my choices and my voice, understanding that both have potential positive and negative consequences.
Imaging our youngest in our midst, learning how to be critical thinkers about their choices, voices and ownership filled me with hopeful inspiration. And as such has caused me to examine what level of critical thinking I’m bringing to my words and actions.
O God of love, we pray thee to give us love:
love in our thinking, love in our speaking,
love in our doing, and love in the hidden places of our souls;
love of our neighbours near and far;
love of our friends, old and new;
love of those with whom we find it hard to bear,
and love of those who find it hard to bear with us;
love of those with whom we work,
and love of those with whom we take our ease;
love in Joy, love in sorrow;
love in life and love in death;
that so at length we may be worthy to dwell with thee,
who art eternal love. – William Temple