Headmaster’s Blog: 5 March 2018

As the Beast from the East met up with Storm Emma from the South, bringing Cornwall to a standstill, I have had a couple of days in my study thinking, reading and writing.  One interesting essay I read analysed why people seem reluctant to change their minds even when the evidence for their original opinion is shown to be incorrect.

John Maynard Keynes, the great 20th century economist quoted “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”  The essayist comments on the latest awful school shooting in the US and observes the growing weight of evidence that gun ownership laws do not keep families safe. Why aren’t those US families who own guns thinking again?  Closer to home, it’s almost two years since the Brexit referendum was fought using a fair amount of fake news. How is it that with all the subsequent debate, polls suggest so few voters have altered their views?

The essay draws on some fascinating research by behavioural psychologists who talk about the two principal constraints to changing our mind; confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. How should we as a school respond to the findings that even when the evidence basis for our beliefs has been totally refuted, humans fail to change their minds appropriately (confirmation bias)? Or, that when we are faced with facts that do not fit with our beliefs, our instinct as humans is to look for ways to neuter that challenge (cognitive dissonance)?

Our whole-school focus this year and next at Truro School is on learning skills, and for all teachers in all departments to use a common vocabulary in their schemes of work. Our Teaching and Learning group has developed our 4Cs approach, which recognises that Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity are essential skills that all pupils need in order that they are able to grow as learners and hopefully recognise and react to these flaws in human thinking.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, boogie boards are an essential bit of kit in every Cornish household – for obvious reasons. One less obvious but rather amusing revelation to me is that they double up rather effectively as sleds.  Witnessing dozens of children sliding down snowy banks at school on boogie boards was a sight to behold.  You will be pleased to hear that it wasn’t all play and no work. Over the last two days there have been well over two thousand logins to Moodle, our virtual learning platform, suggesting that our boys and girls were also cracking on with their studies.

I am looking forward to welcoming everyone back on Monday.