From the Principal

Great Minds

“Great minds think alike.”

But do they?

It is more likely that a review of the great minds in the canon of western civilisation would show you that they were original thinkers or those able to see new ways of using what is in front of them.

They did not think like others.

That might be because when “great” minds all think alike, you get something called “group-think”.

Group-think: “The practice of thinking or making decisions as a group, resulting typically in unchallenged, poor-quality decision-making.”

Perhaps, we should, instead, be educating in a way that allows our students to ask this key question:

“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
T. S. Eliot

Research shows that in most organisations, diverse perspectives drive better outcomes and that when people feel a sense of their ideas being heard at work, they are more creative, healthier and more engaged.

 Research on problem-solving and innovation in the workplace tells us that teams working with individuals with different approaches and ideas are more likely to diagnose and solve complex challenges, as well as imagine and realise future-focused solutions.

As a result, schools that are endeavouring to support their students to excel in areas that may be the key to their future success should support activities that focus on:

  • Curiosity;
  • Analytical thinking and innovation;
  • Reason, complex problem-solving and ideation;
  • Technology design and programming;
  • Creativity, originality and initiative.

So, if you find what is happening at school has moved beyond the model you may have experienced—information transfer and rote learning—do not be afraid.

Foundational skills remain important (literacy and numeracy), as does developing a level of specific knowledge (cross-curricular) so that our students are able to move into the higher realms of problem identification and solving, innovative thought and action and the capacity to work with others to achieve common goals.

“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

Dare to be different? Here are some ways successful and fulfilled people think differently:

1. They pursue curiosity. Curiosity is the vehicle that takes us from finding to living our passion. It builds the bridge.

2. They make friends with stress. Nobody is immune to stress. It’s not whether we experience stress, it’s how we respond.

3. They see chain reactions. Successful people rarely make isolated decisions but join the dots between actions and outcomes. Our thinking is often compartmentalised. That keeps things neat, linear and logical but builds walls we cannot see through. Successful people always look for connections and relationships. They don’t just study parts but see the whole. They have learned to put Humpty-Dumpty together again.

4. They ask more questions than give answers. Our egos paralyse us the moment we are about to ask a question. That fear of judgement is crippling. Successful people are ignorant of judgement and protecting their egos. They prefer growth in asking questions.

5. They contribute before gain. Doing something for nothing is a shock to the system. But contribution without expectation or strings attached is a trademark of many successful and fulfilled people.

6. They schedule time for nothing. Success is synonymous with hard work but successful people regularly schedule time for “nothing”. Einstein said, “Although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling while I listen and visualise what goes on in my imagination.”

We believe education should play a role in fostering these attitudes and approaches because sometimes:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost

Want to share your thoughts on this story, or do you have something you’d like to add? Email me at principal@scas.nsw.edu.au

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