Each story comes with teacher’s notes that give details of the themes covered, discussion questions and a range of follow up activities to deepen and extend thinking. The books are accessible stories aimed at introducing young people to the principles and practices of Thinking 4 Success. They have been deliberately simplified to remove unnecessary background and focus only on the key concepts. Collectively, the stories enable young people to develop an understanding of Thinking 4 Success and apply them to their own lives and futures. The stories are based on a main character called Splodge and the friends, family and community to which Splodge belongs. Comparing and contrasting the life and tales of Splodge with our own lives through story provides a way into Thinking 4 Success for young people.
In Book 1 Splodge and the friends of Splodge experience the same event but have very different perspectives of it and therefore different emotions about it. This leads to different actions. Understanding the links between thoughts, feelings and actions can be very useful in many aspects of social relationships.
In addition, the idea of exploration can be understood as a metaphor. Growing and learning requires an exploration of surroundings, but it also requires an exploration of our own thoughts, feelings, roles, values and beliefs. Sometimes we can be lost and sometimes we can be found and then lost again as our understanding expands.
Who am I? A question we all ask in one form or another throughout our lives. In this book the answers are given by the friends of Splodge in ever widening circles of influence. Whilst this gives great insight into many of the influences that shape our lives, does it fully answer who we are?
Closely coupled with the notion of society shaping the individual is the notion of the individual shaping society. This is hinted at in Book 2 and revisited more strongly in Book 5.
A key component of Book 3 is the exploration of the processes of thinking. This is conveyed as a conversation with self. This can be a helpful way to explore how we can simultaneously have different points of view, hence we can agree or disagree with ourselves.
Another key aspect of the book is the exploration of the interplay between belief and truth. At some point or other in life everyone asks whether there is a god. For some, personal faith is a major part of their lives whilst others do not have a faith or are happy not to know either way. Central to the debate is whether something can be accepted as truth without proof. It is also important to consider to what extent we are prepared to accept that others may have ideas different to our own.
In the dream, Splodge encounters the possibility that an author has created Splodge. The friends of Splodge provide a range of proofs, namely the senses, emotions, thoughts, imagination and actions. These are the very things that we rely on to know we are real.
It is interesting to explore how we can accept the author (someone we can’t see) as real whereas Splodge (someone we can see) we can accept as not real. This can be linked to the previous book about truth and belief. Interestingly, Splodge is real in consequences i.e. Splodge has had an impact on the readers who may go on to make life choices based on this encounter. This is explored further in Book 5.
In Book 5, there is more certainty that Splodge is an invented character though the friends of Splodge remain sceptical about the existence of ‘the readers’ and question their existence. This presents an interesting juxtaposition of figments of imagination questioning whether we are real and vice versa.
In addition, the book explores the purpose of creating the Splodge character and Splodge world, i.e. to be a guide to thinking. This allows a very open exploration of what life is about and how to live it well. This is picked up again in the final book.
In the final book, Splodge visits the world of the author and makes very direct comparisons. There is of course much to appreciate but also much to wonder about. Ultimately, Splodge requests to return home.
There are many opportunities to revisit all the themes encountered, comparing the world of Splodge with our world, thinking about meaning and purpose and to review and assess what has been discovered about thinking. Most of all, however, there is the opportunity to consider action points for the future.