Thinking Through the Curriculum

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A zero-sum game?

This book tackles the contentious issue of whether and how thinking should be taught in schools. It explores how best to help children become effective thinkers and learners.


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The book also examines whether there is one set of underlying cognitive skills and strategies which can be applied across all the curriculum subjects and beyond. Its main thrust, however, is a detailed examination of approaches to developing cognitive skills which are specific to the National Curriculum. The book provides chapters from both generalists and subject specialists to illustrate how teachers in different subject areas can benefit from taking a cognitive approach to their subject. It will give teachers a clear understanding of different approaches to teaching thinking and how these fit together.

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Chapter 7. Integrating Thinking and Learning Skills Across the Curriculum

A more structured approach to general capabilities within the established learning areas would better prepare students to succeed in a changing world:. Strengthen the development of the general capabilities, and raise their status within curriculum delivery, by using learning progressions to support clear and structured approaches to their teaching, assessment, reporting and integration with learning areas.

IUP ILEP PDM 2016 - Socratic Classroom: Engaging Divergent Thinking Across the Curriculum

It argues there should be a structured and consistent approach to teaching, assessing and reporting on the general capabilities. Without this, teachers cannot be expected to integrate them into subject-based learning. Teaching how to think is just as important as teaching anything else. The role of general capabilities in a subject-based curriculum has been a recurring theme in Australian curriculum history.

The Finn Report identified six key areas of competence essential for all young people in preparation for employment:. The Mayer Report identified seven similar key competencies and proposed a set of nationally consistent principles for assessing and reporting on them.

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This theme was taken up in the Adelaide Declaration of National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century , which identified eight general competencies in addition to the knowledge and skills in key learning areas such as literacy and numeracy. It characterised successful learners as creative users of technology, logical thinkers, creative and resourceful problem-solvers, and able to collaborate, work in teams and communicate ideas.

The Australian Curriculum organised the school curriculum across three related dimensions:. The general capabilities were expected to be addressed through the learning areas. The detailed syllabus materials identify opportunities for each of the general capabilities in context. For example, in year eight curriculum content descriptions, critical and creative thinking are a part of the requirements for Historical Knowledge and Understanding:. The way of life in Renaissance Italy social, cultural, economic and political features and the roles and relationships of different groups in society.

The Review of the Australian Curriculum in acknowledged widespread support for the inclusion of general capabilities, but took issue with their ability to be developed outside the context of specific subject areas. The review recommended literacy, numeracy and ICT competencies be maintained in the curriculum. The other four general capabilities were to be taught only where they are relevant in academic subjects. The general capabilities remain within the revised Australian curriculum.

Gonski review reveals another grand plan to overhaul education: The place of general capabilities in the school curriculum is one of the never-ending stories of Australian education. The old curriculum warriors such as Kevin Donnelly continue to protest that capabilities are subject specific, not general, but there is widespread agreement about their importance.


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Students will now be expected to demonstrate progress from year to year. Data collected about student behaviour doesn't help improve teaching or learning. It proposes, to begin with, two general capabilities - critical and creative thinking, and personal and social capability.

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In each case, progressions are expected to underpin subject-based teaching and learning and provide for feedback, measurement and reporting. Developing the new progressions is not without risk. Existing progressions in literacy and numeracy build on a century of research on reading and mathematics learning. The new progressions in creativity and social skills will need to be underpinned by new scientific work.