“You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
As we know, life is far from clean and simple. Our modern world inundates us with mixed messages and overwhelming noise. Without clear thinking, our children are vulnerable to so much.
Our learners cultivate critical thinking skills in daily Socratic discussions and they practice making good decisions by actually having the freedom to make many of the decisions that shape their day. You can’t become a critical thinker without having ample time to think and reflect. You can’t become a good decision maker without actually being able to decide things.
It seems silly to spell out. However, most institutions don’t give our children the freedom or opportunity to make many decisions themselves.
At The Village School, our young learners have been testing out their freedom and decision making abilities for the past seven months. Through trial and error, constant feedback, and daily practice, they have been working hard to make their thinking “clean and simple.”
Has it worked? Can we see tangible evidence of clear thinking?
A recent experience in our own home gave me an answer to this wondering. After a particular challenging day, I flopped down on the couch next to our nine year old and asked, “What do you do when you realize you made a mistake and aren’t particularly proud of yourself?”
Our son sat up tall, looked at me and spoke as if he had been simply waiting around for me to ask this exact question.
“First, I would apologize if I need to- like if I was unkind or overreacted to something.
Second, I would remind myself that everyone makes mistakes. People are way harder on themselves than other people are on them. Just because I’m mad at myself doesn’t mean everyone else is mad at me. They’re probably not even thinking about me.
Third, I would get quiet and still until I felt calm.
Fourth, I reflect on what I could do differently next time so I don’t feel like this. I probably let the wrong part of my brain tell me what to do. This side shouts, “Do this! It’s the way you’ve always done it. It’s the quickest and easiest way.” The other side whispers, “Slow down, pay attention. You can try a different way.” You have to stop long enough to listen to the voice that whispers.
Lastly, I would make myself do something I really like even if I don’t feel like it. Just doing it can fix a bad mood.”
Clean and simple- the type of thinking that will move mountains.