Who We Are

 

Our passion for critical and creative teaching and learning practice, into which philosophical thinking and enquiry fits so well, has been nurtured since we met.  We have developed such a supportive friendship bond and have worked on building our skills, and mentoring each other to become more thoughtful and nuanced teachers.

The opportunity to begin Thinkative arose when we were invited by Jane McIntyre, of Thinking Schools South Africa, to give workshops on critical and creative thinking, using philosophical enquiry. It is an idea that we have been toying with for a while, and now it has come to fruition. We are fortunate to have the support of our schools (Redhill School, in Morningside Johannesburg, and Holy Rosary School, Edenvale) in this endeavour, and this has allowed us to develop programmes that can be ‘test driven’ in our own educational environments.

The feedback we have received from our peers has been very encouraging and we look forward to sharing our methodology with all teachers who are interested in creating learning environments that are rich with questions, steeped in critical thinking and deeply creative too, to reveal the conceptual understandings that have been excluded from content-based teaching for too long.

 

Monica Baart

I have taught Primary School for 25 years. I have been a teacher at Holy Rosary School, Edenvale, Johannesburg for 15 years and from the beginning of 2019 have been teaching at Redhill School.

Our education system is continually challenged to examine itself. In an ever changing world, every minute new trends are being introduced, new systems are being followed and new inventions are birthed. I believe, as educators, in this ever changing world, that we need to be continually taking steps to improve our teaching skills and the development of thoughts and ideas.

We are currently incorporating Thinking Maps in daily teaching and learning.  Incorporating these tools as well as Philosophical Thinking and Enquiry, enable us to infuse critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking skills into the curriculum.

Holy Rosary and Redhill hosted the internationally acclaimed practitioner of Philosophy for Children (P4C) Jason Buckley, The Philosophy Man (2017). His workshop “Philosophy Circles” was invaluable as the focus was on embedding P4C into the curriculum.

Along with my colleague at HRS, Diane Horsten and in close collaboration with Kemble Elliott at Redhill, we have been involved in the development and practice of P4C in our schools, and now run Thinkative (where we share best teaching practice of critical and creative thinking, and enquiry). I have presented at a number of Art Cluster meetings over the last 3 years, and demonstrated how P4C can be used in Art.  I, along with Diane Horsten, have also run a number of Professional Development workshops for staff.

I have been on a P4C journey of learning, investigating and exploring for 8 years and I am at present completing my Level 3 training. John Maxwell’s quote is inspirational, “It is what we do IN our daily tasks that make all the difference.”

 

 

Kemble Elliott

I have been a teacher for 32 years and in that time have been involved in all four phases of education, from Foundation Phase (FP) to Further Education and Training (FET).  I have also trained teachers formally and informally.  My main goal is to see students thrive in their educational environments. I am passionate about supporting educational change and growth, making education relevant and authentic.

I am currently Director of Creative and Critical Thinking and Professional Development, at Redhill School, where I run a programme called “Talking About Teaching”, focussing on educational practice and pedagogy. I also teaches Advanced Programme (AP) English (Grades 11 and 12) and Theory of Knowledge in the Diploma Programme of the International Baccalaureate.  

I have been passionate about developing ways to engage students for many years and have developed my understanding of the pedagogical practices behind critical and creative teaching and thinking initiatives, completing a Masters’ Degree in Education on this topic.  I have trained in Philosophy for Children (P4C) over the last nine years. P4C focusses on developing the conceptual reasoning of children from three to 103. It is a powerful methodology for exploring thinking and learning, and most especially metacognitive and self-reflective practice in learning environments.

Unless we focus on ‘education for tomorrow’, we will be relegating our children to the side lines of an ever-changing world.  It is evident that education has to change fundamentally and I am passionate about making a contribution to that change.

I am a wife, mother, teacher, learner, writer, playwright, and poet, and have been invited to speak at educational conferences both nationally and internationally.  My focus is on making learning a creative and exciting experience. 

 

Diane Horsten

I am passionate about Early Childhood Development and hold true these words attributed to Einstein. “Education is not the learning of facts, but the trainings of minds to think”. My many years teaching Grade R and P4C (Philosophy for Children) have confirmed my view that the Kindergarten model is best placed to develop a child’s curiosity, creativity, skills and thinking. I envision the Kindergarten model being applied beyond the Grade R classroom to meet the demands of 21st Century Education.

I have been teaching for 28 years and have taught Grade 00, Grade 1 and Grade 2. For the last 19 years I have taught Grade R at Holy Rosary School. It was here that I first met Professor Karin Murris and my P4C journey began. I am currently completing my Level 3 training  and look forward to the possibility of sharing my knowledge and experience.

I am the P4C Coordinator for the Primary school and present staff development sessions aimed at providing teachers with the tools and confidence to practice P4C in the classroom, in conjunction with other thinking approaches such as Making Thinking Visible, Habits of Mind and Thinking Maps. I have presented a number of introductory workshops on P4C to parents and cluster meetings. Together with a colleague, I run a Philosophy Club for children from Grade 1 to 7. We also run a Philosophy programme for Holy Rosary School’s Grade 8 Outreach learners.

With Kemble Elliott and Monica Baart, we have developed Thinkative, to share best P4C practice. We organised Jason Buckley, The Philosophy Man, to present his workshop entitled, “Philosophy Circles” at Holy Rosary School and Redhill School. We have kept up correspondence and have a good working relationship with him.

 

Mpho Tshivhase

Mpho Tshivhase is currently a senior lecturer at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Pretoria. She lectures undergraduate and postgraduate courses mainly in ethics ranging from African and Western philosophical traditions. She holds a doctoral degree in Philosophy from the University of Johannesburg. Her research interests are personhood, personal uniqueness, and themes of love, autonomy, authenticity, death, and African ethics. She has authored (and reviewed) academic papers in the abovementioned areas, and has presented papers at local and international conferences. Mpho has worked on different interdisciplinary institutional projects at the University of Pretoria that were hosted by the Center for Human Rights, the Faculty of Humanities, and the Center for Advancement of Scholarship.

She presently manages with the Faculty of Humanities student leaders who work with the institution’s Department of Student Affairs. She also mentors students in the Student Representative Council. She is also a co-founding member of the forthcoming South African chapter of the Society for Women in Philosophy (SWIP). Furthermore, she happens be the first woman of African descent from South Africa to obtain a doctoral degree in Philosophy. Mpho is currently serving as the president of the Philosophical Society of Southern Africa.