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Teaching thinking: Theory and practice

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Developing higher-order thinking has surfaced as a national priority for learning in many countries. What this signifies in terms of theories of cognition and cognitive development is analysed; in particular, the paedagogical implications are examined. Examples of approaches to teaching thinking are reviewed. These include enrichment approaches such as Feuerstein's Instrumental Enrichment (IE), Cognitive Acceleration (CA) programmes and Philosophy for Children (P4C). Alternative strategies for teaching thinking - infusion across the curriculum - are then analysed with regard to their focus on cognitive skills and strategies, multiple intelligences, thinking dispositions and learning communities in thinking classrooms. Despite theoretical differences, a consensus is emerging with regard to a desired pedagogy for thinking classrooms. The pedagogy includes the need to focus on classroom dialogue, to engage learners in open-ended activities, in collaborative activities and in joint meaning making. Making thinking more 'visible' in classrooms is considered crucial so that a meta-cognitive perspective can be adopted and transfer of learning optimized. The consequences for cultures of classrooms and for teacher development are noted. Gaps in theoretical knowledge about developmental trajectories with regard to higher-order thinking are identified.

Language: English


Publication date: October 1, 2005

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