By Tim Middleton
It is only when we have children of our own that we discover how strange humans can be. We will all have been challenged at some point in our life by someone asking us why on earth we behaved as we did, after we had done something unusual, wrong or silly. Most of us would have responded probably with a shrug of the shoulders and a stifled, “No idea!” We might alternatively admit there was no reason in our doing it or confess that we had applied no thought before doing it. We just did it. Indeed, in life it would appear that many actions are taken without any real thought or logic.
Mathematics is a subject which involves a great deal of logic, when we look at equations in particular, but so too does English, and equally philosophy as well as all other aspects of education, teach us a great deal about logic. The word “logic”, after all, comes from the Greek word “logos” which means word, reason or idea. Words are at the heart of communication and learning, so education involves us looking at theo-logical (studies of God) issues, psycho-logical (studies of the mind) issues, bio-logical, astro-logical, patho-logical issues. They are all logical.
The logical conclusion from all of this is that we must teach children to be logical in their thinking. We must help youngsters discover and discern that there must be appropriate and logical reason before they determine and decide on a particular course of action. Actions must follow reason.
Sadly, even in education there is very often no logic shown. When parents ask about a school’s pass rate, their logic is faulty. They think that because a school’s pass rate is 55% their child has a 55% chance of passing, ignoring the fact that their child has a 100% chance of passing depending on her own ability, attitude and effort. Their child is different from every single other child that was included in a previous year sitting different examinations in different subjects with different teachers. There is no logic in looking at one year’s results to determine one individual’s potential results. We may as well say that because one plane from one airline crashed we must not travel with that airline; there may have been many reasons why that one plane crashed, none of which apply to us.
In a similar but converse way there is often no logic in a school’s attitude to the way it conducts itself. When a school says that “we have always done it this way”, it does suggest a certain logic (we have done it thus so we will do it thus) but again an incorrect one as they have not thought through that times and circumstances change which may render their actions obsolete, out-of-date and ineffective. Similarly, if a school states that “other schools are doing it” the logic may be apparent (if one does it so we all must do it) but again they are not thinking through the crucial factor that every school is different, with different children and different vision statements.
The logical fact is, though, that life is full of logic. “If … then…” is a reality in life. There are consequences to our actions; consequently we need to think about our actions. It is all demonstrated powerfully in nature all around us; we reap what we sow. When we sow strawberries, we will reap them (good or bad but strawberries they remain); we will not reap onions. So when we sow laziness and wastefulness we will reap poverty yet when we sow hard work and dedication we will reap plenty. The one follows the other. If some sow anger, we will reap discord but if we all sow kindness we will reap peace. If some bully others at school, they will learn to bully thereafter.
The consequence of all this is that we must help our children to learn for themselves that as day follows night, logic is part of our life and therefore should be part of our thinking. We must understand in education that what we sow in school we reap later in life; if we sow one particular style of leadership at school, we should not be surprised to see it in years to come in business, politics and sport. Education is one long sowing lesson. As William Wordsworth, the Romantic poet, wrote, and as the old proverb stated, “the child is the father of the man”. These words have worth. Let us ensure that we produce the people we want to have with good reason and logic. After all, that is only logical. May it not become criminological, pathological or regret-ological.
Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS.