Realms of Thinking

Posted on February 12, 2021

I am conscious that many in our community may not be totally familiar with the term “Realms of Thinking”, particularly those who are new to the School this year.

Realms of Thinking are methods of teaching that help students to become innovative thinkers. They are approaches to learning which help students to master the basics while also growing their capacity to ask better questions, navigate failure, develop empathy and spark their imaginations.

We at St Paul’s School have spent the last nine years developing this new approach to teaching in response to what we see happening around us. A significant piece of research we did in 2014, which resulted in the creation of four scenarios, or stories of possible futures for 2028, revealed some alarming trends.

That research showed us that the world has entered a period of change like no other experienced in human history and the rate of change is only accelerating. Those changes are driven largely by improvements in technology (AI – Artificial Intelligence – in particular) and its impact on work.

To thrive in the world of tomorrow, to be “employable”, young people need to be able to think like an innovator. They need the skills and capabilities to create their own employment opportunities: to think like an entrepreneur or become an entrepreneur. Skills that cannot be replicated by AI.

What underpins the ability to think like an innovator, think or be an entrepreneur? Creativity.

And yet schools, by their very nature, are very good at killing creativity. This is where Realms of Thinking come in. We have an ethical and moral responsibility to provide your children with the opportunities to develop the skills they need to thrive in a world that will be very different from the one we know today.

Realms of Thinking are a collection of 16 dispositions which foster creative thinking. When clustered together, these dispositions give rise to ways of working, like Design Thinking or Entrepreneurial Thinking. Teachers across the School, in every curriculum area, embed these dispositions into their lessons to support students to become innovative thinkers.

If you are keen to learn more about Realms of Thinking I encourage you to visit the new Realms of Thinking site:

Alternatively, you might like to listen to a seven-minute talk we gave at the global ACERE Entrepreneurship Educator’s Forum 2021 this week, attended by researchers from MIT in Boston and universities in Israel and New Zealand. You can view that talk here:

Finally, if you are interested in hearing more about how schools kill creativity, I invite you to watch the late Sir Ken Robinson – one of the world’s most respected educators, speak about it. His TED Talk is possibly the most viewed TED talk of all time with some 69million views:


Dr Paul Browning


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