My weekly blog is a little later than usual as I attended the BAISIS (British Independent Schools with International Students) conference with two other teachers from The Mount, Mill Hill International. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet up with other colleagues from similar schools in the UK and listen to some illuminating talks.
The plenary speaker at the conference was Natasha Devon who was appointed MBE for her services to young people, particularly in the field of teenage mental health. What is particularly refreshing about Natasha Devon is her unapologetically bold stance on the role of critical thinking. In fact, her forthright views led her to being sacked from the Department of Education when she spoke out against education policies which, in her view, were causing mental health problems both in children and in their teachers.
The focus on critical thinking chimes with one of the Mill Hill School Foundation aims: to develop moral integrity and the confidence to stand up for what you believe in. As I listened to Ms Devon’s talk about how to help teenagers navigate the world of social media through critical thinking, I was inspired to re-consider how our school gives the skills to our pupils to become sceptical about their passive consumption of increasingly targeted online advertising. We might not be able to stop our pupils being bombarded by adverts with images that promote, for example, warped body image but we can encourage them to question the assumptions behind the messages.