I m still focusing on the issue of teaching thinking skills to the children. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the first step which is stillness. Stillness can be a challenge. Many of us find that when we try to be still a dance band strikes up in our heads and we are led a merry dance consisting of disconnected thoughts, dreams, images, feelings, memories, simple associations and so on.
And these can take us into a world of emotions such as anxiety, fear, insecurity and doubt, which then feed back into that busy world of thought. This, to say the least, is not a good place to start for the cool clear application of reason to a problem or situation.
So the basic prescription is, firstly, to find an effective technique for becoming inwardly still; and then secondly to practice giving simple uncluttered attention to the situation which lies before you. The third step is to respond in the way which, in the circumstances, seems most appropriate. The basic idea is to connect with reality. To see and hear and feel what is actually happening in front of you, rather than respond to inner fears and hopes and unrealistic expectations.
Hence, at John Colet we punctuate the children’s day with regular moments of stillness, and connection with the here-and-now. This is practice for the main game when, it is hoped, they will have the instinctive well-practised ability to apply reason and attention to anything life throws at them.
Answer to last week’s riddle about the paths to life and death, and the liar and the truth-teller ready to answer one question: The question, which can be addressed to either man is I want to travel the path to life, what path would the other fellow tell me to take? And then, whatever answer you get, take the other path.
This week’s question: Cur gallina per viam transire maluit? Your answer can be in English, but give yourself bonus marks for answering in Latin!