'The unexamined life is not worth living.'

Critical and Creative Thinking is a well established subject at St Mary’s which opens up a tradition of philosophical and rational thinking dating back to the Greek tradition of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. It promotes a habit of not taking things at face value which is very important for both A Level and University study. The creative elements of the course also challenge students to devise new ideas and to have confidence in their ability to think and respond quickly, questioning conventional approaches.

In the Fourth Form (Years 7, 8 and 9) girls examine the broad concepts of evidence, reason and credibility which form the foundations of our belief structures. For example, using a variety of objective criteria we judge the credibility of both individual and source based pieces of evidence in a range of different contexts. We assess whether these sources are neutral or biased, whether there is a vested interest to lie or tell the truth and decide if the sources are corroborated by others. We also scrutinise topics as diverse as crime and punishment and animal rights, as well as looking at moral dilemmas and ethical theories such as Utilitarianism. Each of these topics allows for plenty of debate, discussion and disagreement. Critical Thinking encourages the girls to support their views by using reason as well as to re-evaluate their beliefs and preconceptions, exploring new approaches to issues. At UIV the lesson is taught within a new Humanities framework along with History and Geography. This will give pupils opportunity to explore and present an independent research project and a new Social Justice theme which will critically explore diverse issues relating to prejudice and discrimination within society today. These topics are continued within the Religious Studies curriculum in LV and UV Form (Years 10 and 11) and lessons continue in LVI (year 12) on Saturday mornings as part of the Motiv8 programme. Creative Thinking is also stimulated using a number of techniques based on the work of Edward de Bono and other famous authors on creativity and lateral thinking. This involves challenging our students to think about ideas in new ways, hopefully surprising even their teachers with the results of their ingenuity! Critical and Creative Thinking lessons are often different from ordinary lessons with a variety of media used to stimulate thinking, including a number of Creative Thinking games suitable for all ages.

Rev Marc Thomas (Head of Department)