Alter your outlook upon life, and your outward life will alter.
On a Sunday morning in late March, I arose early and went for a ride on my bike. The air was chilly and, uncharacteristically for the foothills of Alberta, a wispy fog hung in the air, slowing down the burgeoning brightness on the horizon. As I pedaled away from the driveway, I switched on the small headlight on the handlebar. This flicker of illumination provided little in the way of directional guidance, but it did serve to alert oncoming traffic of my presence on the road.
The conditions on my route that morning provided a metaphor for life. Sometimes the brightness on our own horizon (i.e. the goals and dreams we’ve set) can get blighted by the paralyzing fog of indecision and doubt. At those times, we need to refocus and create the kind of self-propelled energy that originates in our thoughts. As you’d probably agree, it’s so easy to default to the negative and allow the drain of undisciplined thinking to slow us down.
Conversely, it takes a determined effort to channel our thoughts in the direction we need to take them.
On the topic of our thoughts, one of the most interesting quotes I’ve read in that area is the one by the esteemed writer above, James Allen. “We think in secret and it comes to pass. Our environment is but our looking glass.” In other words, the conditions or circumstances of our life, positive or negative, are the direct result of the thoughts we’ve had prior to their existence. It follows then that if we want different results in our life, we must change the thoughts that we allow to dominate our mind. But is it really that simple? Are our thoughts really that powerful? All the great minds down through the centuries have asserted that the answer is a resounding yes.
Here’s a thought! How about if we designed our school curriculum around teaching our students thinking skills? Yes, I know we incorporate critical thinking and problem solving skills in many of our subject areas now. And I’m not forgetting about the thinking skills identified in Benjamin Bloom’s famous taxonomy. But what I’m talking about is setting up a mandatory course at the high school level whereby students would be introduced to the writings of great thinkers. I could envision this course taking the following shape. The students would be instructed to read books like As A Man Thinketh, by James Allen; The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne; and Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill – just to name three. Then, as a sample extension activity, the students could be encouraged to create presentations that demonstrated real world applications of the wisdom they gained from reading the books.
Here in Alberta I’m currently teaching a course in Grade 11 called Calm 20. The acronym stands for career and life management. Much of the course deals with developing skills in the areas of goal setting, career and life choices, and personal choices concerning budgeting and money matters. Obviously, those are important life skills for students to master. Maybe the Calm 20 course would be a suitable one to add a unit or module on thinking skills. I would probably call that module “Thinking Skills for a Well Managed Life.” What do you think?
Leonard Quilty is a teacher with the Centre for Learning@Home, a fully-accredited and publicly-funded Christian school that combines the expertise of Okotoks Home Schooling Services and St. Paul's Academy Online School and is part of Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit his website at: www.inspiredtoteach.com