Norway and Northern Ireland
For some years now TSI has been working with a group of schools in East Oslo, primarily focussing on Visual Tools for Thinking. This originated from the Comenius project (see below) that involved both the East Oslo Education District and the North Eastern Education and Library Board in Northern Ireland. The activity has aroused interest in other Oslo schools and TSI worked with drive teams from a number of new schools in early 2013.. In August 2013, a further trip was carried out to run an update and reinforcement session for all the teachers from the new schools and to visit the schools.
In September 2013, TSI International Director Nick Symes worked with teachers from Disen Skole in East Oslo, one of the first tranche of schools to be involved with TSI. Having embedded Visual Tools for Thinking as their first Thinking School pathway, they were ready to add to their thinking repertoire. As a result of this, a day was spent working with all the teachers on Dispositions for Mindfulness with a specific focus on Habits of Mind. Time was also spent with teachers from another two of the East Oslo group of schools. This was particularly exciting as their activity is proving of interest to schools elsewhere in Oslo.
Some of the classroom activity that has emerged from both the existing and new schools is extremely encouraging.
A two-year Regio Comenius project, led by the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s Curriculum Advisory and Support Service (NEELB) and Oslo Education Authority (UDE), focused on shared exploration of the concept of a Thinking School. The project involved Kestrel Consultancy (the UK arm of TSI) and University of Oslo, as external partners, and also included participation by staff of six Northern Irish primary schools and four Norwegian schools.
Regio Comenius Project – Norway and Northern Ireland
The objectives of the project were agreed as:
To define the features of a ‘thinking school’.
To evaluate the impact of the thinking school programme in the identified schools.
To compare the experiences of identified schools in Norway and Northern Ireland as they journey towards becoming ‘thinking schools’.
To investigate ways of measuring children’s progress in thinking.
To disseminate learning to other European regions through written and digital media.
School administrators, trainers/facilitators, school leaders, teachers and pupils in the two different European regions had the opportunity to work together with the common purpose of pursuing the concept of a thinking school, with a particular focus on evaluating the impact of professional development. Teachers in both countries were trained in the use of David Hyerle’s Thinking Maps and were able to compare implementation and share practice. Participants from all partner organizations had opportunities to join in shared meetings in Oslo and in Northern Ireland over a two-year period, and to visit schools and observe classroom practice in both countries. They also benefited from learning about the wider culture of the partner region as well as comparing and contrasting educational policy and practice, actual classroom experiences and aspects of pedagogy.
A significant activity within the project was the preparation for and co-facilitation of a workshop at TSI’s Thinking Schools Conference in Swindon in June 2011. A team of participants from Norway and from Northern Ireland presented the workshop entitled ‘Leading a Thinking School: An International Perspective’. A wider group of ten representatives from Norway and eight from Northern Ireland were enabled to attend the conference and benefit from engaging in conference activities and professional dialogue with others involved in the thinking school network. During this visit, all participants were also able to visit accredited thinking schools in England/Wales and observe good practice.