Year 6 apply critical thinking skills at Forest School

Elmhurst School for Boys

25th June 2015

I went to Forest School with Year 6 this week. They are in the middle of their final Forest School unit of work before they move on to their secondary schools and it was fascinating to see how they used their critical thinking skills in the ‘free time’ session. It is a misconception that critical thinking hinders creativity because it requires following the rules of logic and rationality, and that creativity might require breaking rules. Critical thinking is about challenging consensus and is compatible to ‘thinking out of the box’. We need to think critically to evaluate and improve our creative ideas. It was fascinating because this is exactly what was unfolding in front of me with our Year 6 boys.

Let’s take one of our Year 6 pupils as an example. Hamzah was determined to make a swing from a long rope and a log. He spent the first few minutes walking around our ‘area’ looking for a suitable branch to try and throw his rope over. Logic was telling him that it had to be a strong enough branch to take his weight. It had to be long enough so that the swing would not swing him back into the tree and hurt him, but it was his ability to think critically that enabled him to select the correct branch for his swing. He attempted to make the swing on three different branches before he decided on the right one. Each time he tried a tree, he was evaluating and improving his thoughts on how to create his swing. His ultimate success was down to using critical thinking to enhance his work process, until he was entirely satisfied that he had created a ‘safe’ swing. His face was an absolute picture when he had his first successful attempt at effectively using his swing.

Similarly, the other boys were using critical thinking when designing a shelter, creating their own games in the woods and whittling wood for roasting marshmallows on the fire. If there is one aspect of the Elmhurst curriculum in particular that promotes critical thinking, it is Forest School!

Critical thinking is such an important skill for life and the Year 6 boys will move on to secondary school in September, having experienced Forest School for the past two years and developed and improved their critical thinking skills. Critical thinking happens in many areas of the curriculum but Forest School promotes and enhances critical thinking in almost every aspect of the Elmhurst boys’ experience. This is why we believe in Forest School at Elmhurst and the boys from Reception to Year 6 all love it!

Mr Padfield

View photos of Year 6 at Forest School.

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