Thinking Skills

“Education is not the learning of facts but training the mind to think.”
Albert Einstein
“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.”
“Time given to thought is the greatest time saver of all.”
Norman Cousins

At Glenmoor and Winton we believe in thinking. We not only teach students content but critically we supply them with the tools and understanding to think about the content in a number of different ways. These are known as cognitive processes..

How do we strive to be better thinkers?

Lev S. Vygotsky argued convincingly that ‘our thoughts are influenced by the kinds of tools we use. We can see that when we perform physical tasks, such as gardening or brushing our teeth, how we deal with the task and whether we succeed are both influenced by the tools we use.’ However, we do not always recognize that tools also can influence how we perform mental tasks, how we think about them, and whether we complete them successfully. (James Hierbert et al, Making Sense)  So to help us become more conscious and more effective thinkers,  we use a number of tools and strategies specifically designed to “direct attention towards thinking”  (Edward de Bono, Teaching to Think) in particular ways. By using a tool for the job, students and staff can be explicit about the type of thinking (mental tasks) they are doing and are more likely to think efficiently because of this.

Set of Tools 1: Thinking maps

There are 8 Thinking Maps (Hyerle.D) that students and staff use across all key stages and subject areas. These 8 maps are linked to 8 different cognitive processes such as comparing and contrasting or categorising information.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of the 8 Thinking Maps.

Tool 2: 6 Hat Thinking (de Bono. E)

6 hat thinking purposefully steers students and staff to think in specific ways. A useful analogy might be an art class sat around the room observing a still life and then painting what they see. Although the artefacts or people are the same for everyone, the way they “see it/them” can be wildly different. This happens in life as well. The same proposal may be placed on the table but it can mean many different things to different people. 6 Hats is a method of everyone in the art class or everyone around the board room being able to “see” from all sides, all angles.

Click here for an overview of the 6 Hats

Strategy for feedback

We also believe that how students respond to feedback can further develop their thinking skills. At GW we use a strategy known as DIRT (Directed Improvement and/or Reflection Time). This is a simple but effective strategy where teachers will ask students thoughtful questions about their work and draw a blank highlighted box for their thinking. This tests a number of thinking skills.

Click here for examples of DIRT feedback

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