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Head's Blog

Building Intellectual Character

By January 14, 2022No Comments

“Intelligence is not a fixed quality, determined at birth by one’s genes. Rather, it is a variable that can be developed at every stage of life.” – Reuven Feuerstein

At The Mulberry House School, we are committed to supporting children’s personal development and wellbeing. What lies at the heart of our curriculum is developing the pupils understanding of how to approach the curriculum in a way that encourages reasoning, enquiry, flexibility of mind, persistence and originality. The qualities needed to thrive in school life and beyond.

Since 2018, the school has worked with numerous educational professionals including Dr. Kathy Weston and C. J. Simister, to develop a curriculum that works in harmony with supporting the pupils’ academic and emotional resilience whilst also building on Intellectual Characteristics which make up the school’s values of; empathy, kindness, honesty, resilience, collaboration, perseverance, reflection and thoughtfulness.

C. J. Simister believes that “Intelligence is not fixed. We shape our brains with every new experience we encounter, every challenge we overcome and every risk we take. And given this happens most powerfully during childhood, the message for parents and teachers is this: the difference you can make to young people’s lives, to their futures, is extraordinary. Raising children who can confidently and happily make the very most of their potential in an exciting but unpredictable world is not something we can leave to chance” and that is why this lies at the very heart of our curriculum at The Mulberry House School. Never before has character education been so relevant to our pupils than today. Whether through the resilience needed to navigate the adversity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or the compassion, understanding and empathy for how others have been affected. The children need to develop the ability to sympathise and empathise, collaborate, problem solve, critically think and enquire.

To support this development, each ‘characteristic’ is introduced to the children from the moment they join us at 2 years old as the fundamental building blocks of learning. They meet each of our Mulberry Mascots throughout their time at the school and learn about our special ‘Magnificent Mindsets’ poem (found below).

The children in our First School are introduced to the Participating Penguin and the Empathetic Elephant as they begin to learn early concepts of sharing and cooperation.

When they move through the Badgers’ and Transition classes, they are introduced to the Mindful Meerkat, Meditative Macaque and Resilient Waterbear with a focus on kindness, cooperation, reflection, flexibility of mind and perseverance.

Finally, in our Prep classes these concepts are weaved into our Metacognition lessons and beyond where the children cover all 5 ‘characteristics’ each term, learning the full breadth of our poem.

So what can parents do to help?

  • Draw attention to and model, positive learning habits.
  • Demonstrate and model sticking at things even if they are difficult
  • Talk about how you feel when you are taking on challenges
  • Praise your child when they persevere
  • Encourage open-ended questions
  • Demonstrate making links between different ideas
  • Encourage them to take responsibility for preparing for school
  • Ask not what they did at school, but what they learned
  • Help them to think about, and plan, activities
  • Encourage flexibility and the ability to change a plan if necessary
  • Work, play and learn alongside your children, enabling them to pick up good habits through imitation
  • Make expectations of turn-taking and cooperation clear
  • Demonstrate that adults are always learning too
  • Show that adults make mistakes
  • Encourage risk taking in learning
  • Encourage your child to enjoy a challenge and challenge themselves

“The only certain thing about the future is that it will be different from today. To make the most of whatever comes along, our pupils need to be creative, risk-taking, independent thinkers, happy to respond positively in the face of change.” – Stephen Perse

As Carol Dweck says “successful individuals love learning, value effort and persist in the face of obstacles” and this is what we aim for as pupils start their education journeys and prepare for life after Mulberry.