TRAINS OF THOUGHT

admin, October 14, 2021

In a world of rapid change and increasing technology it is vital that students, parents, teachers and everybody else open their personal ‘pathways to progress’.

Learning can happen anywhere, at any time, and should be fun, but certainly not frivolous. 

We all have the responsibility to give our children the time, space and freedom to choose what they want to explore, and to learn from their mistakes. 

Trains of Thought philosophies and actions encourage the reshaping of the roles of learners, parents, teachers, home educators and administrators – with skill building, collaboration and discoveries not bound by walls, distance, or time. 

Many children do not want to go to school or cannot wait to leave it. 

At some point, teachers, home educators and education administrators assumed that we all learn only when we are quiet and serious. When was it exactly that the delivery of learning in our classrooms strayed from fun to dull, from play to work, and from active to quiet?

All that changes with Trains of Thought! 

With imaginative, inspiring and user-friendly content, nobody is forced to come up with a right answer at the “right” time – rather, we all learn to ask a wide range of questions and to devise multiple approaches to a problem. There may be many ‘right’ answers and there be many different moments when the right answer comes into a learner’s mind. 

What is Trains of Thought?

This resource provides opportunities to examine preferences, values and beliefs – and to express feelings openly and honestly. The gently-graded activities encourage individuals to become more aware of themselves – their hopes and fears, their strengths and weaknesses, there likes and dislikes – while learning to respect and appreciate the feelings of others.

The initiative aims to help children to:

  • have an appropriately positive regard for self, and for others and their needs;
  • develop life skills that will enable them to participate safely and effectively in society;
  • identify, review and evaluate the values they and society hold, and recognise that these affect thoughts and actions;
  • take responsibility for their own lives.

The achievement of these aims requires children to increase their knowledge and understanding of themselves, of others, of the immediate environment, and of the world in which they live. They need to learn and practise processes and skills which will enable them to:

  • address their personal needs;
  • work independently; but also participate effectively in groups; 
  • make their own decisions;  assess their own abilities and capabilities.

Self-Awareness – Everything that the child does can potentially lead to increased self-awareness. In order for this potential to be realised, children should be assisted to see how their actions are influenced by values, attitudes and past experiences – and they should be encouraged to consider how to apply this knowledge in future situations.

As their degree of self-awareness increases children should reflect on their achievements, goals, personalities and consider how these affect their personal development. They need to be helped to realise that, just as they grow and change physically, so, too, they grow and change emotionally. Self awareness helps individuals to develop their ability to make informed choices and decisions.

Self-Esteem – Self-esteem refers to the value which a person puts on himself/herself.  High self-esteem contributes to the development of positive self-image. As learning and development takes place, children need to value themselves so they become sufficiently confident to take risks and not be afraid of failure. 

It is in an atmosphere of trust and security that children learn to meet appropriate challenges in a widening context of people, places and circumstances.

Inter-Personal Relationships – Throughout their lives, children will be called on to fill a variety of roles and to interact in a variety of group and one-to-one situations. The success with which they do this will be determined by the level of their interpersonal skills.

Being skilled in communicating and relating to others contributes to personal satisfaction and increases the ways in which individuals can respond to others. Good personal  relationships are an end in themselves.

Independence and Inter-dependence – ‘Growing up’ involves an increasing awareness and recognition of dependence, independence and inter-dependence. Recognising when it is appropriate to act in these ways is a sign of maturity. Children have to learn that when they have freedom to choose what they want to do, they have to accept responsibility for that choice and the ensuing consequences.

While acting independently and living in society, pupils need to make concessions to enable others to reach their goals. The appreciation of the value of interdependence and inter-dependence leads to understanding of the importance of flexible and constructive responses to personal and social challenges.

Presentation – It is particularly important in these activities, which aim to promote serious thought and honest communication, that the activity leader demonstrates a non-manipulative and straightforward approach. 

When the leader has facts and opinions to share, these should be offered directly and openly.  It is important for the leader to ensure that individuals do not feel rejected for having different thoughts. Useful summations may include ‘We might someday want to change the rules; That’s just my opinion; We have to think things through for ourselves, Different people think differently about these issues.’ 

Assessment – Within the contexts of self-awareness, self-esteem, inter-personal relationships, interdependence and inter-dependence, there are many opportunities to assess the extent to which the child

·     knows and understands the nature of personal and social skills and how to develop them; and

·     uses the various skills which he/she is learning.

There are, however, areas of an individual’s personal and social development which should never be subject to formal assessment – the worth of a child should never be in question, nor should there be final or simple judgments made about values held.

Opinions can be expressed, processes learned and practised, information gathered, debate can ensue, bur final decisions on personal matters are the responsibility of the individual concerned.

“We all learn best when what we are doing is personally relevant – when the outcome is meaningful and clear.”

These activities are beginnings, not endings. They are proposals, not prescriptions. They can be used in a sequence, or mined for ideas that fit elsewhere.

Good parenting and teaching is an art; and like any art, cannot be reduced to a technique. Wise judgment will always be essential. However, practising good technique, while remaining mindful of the basic – and essentially very simple principle to care about the best interests of students – will make any parent or teacher, however good, a better one.  Caring for students is also fundamental to teaching for humane feelings, humane values, and human rights.