How do we best contribute to the development of citizens who are more discerning and able to work through complex and challenging problems? This is the central question that Meriden’s teachers considered in their professional learning in January. Working with Jonathan Heard from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), teachers focused on activities that explicitly develop critical thinking skills. They examined ACER’s framework which organises critical thinking into three strands: knowledge construction, evaluating reasoning and decision making.
The acquisition of knowledge is an important but frequently overlooked part of the critical thinking process. UNSW Emeritus Professor, John Sweller, argues in his recent paper, ‘knowledge held in long-term memory is the first prerequisite of critical and creative thinking’. During the professional learning session, teachers enjoyed identifying essential knowledge for their subjects and designing activities to evaluate reasoning and make decisions.
Throughout the year, students in Meriden’s Senior School can expect to:
- develop and test hypotheses
- identify the connections between information and concepts
- distinguish between fact and interpretation
- argue logically
- support perspectives with relevant evidence.
Interestingly, this focus on critical thinking appears to boost creativity rather than stifle it. Being curious and flexible can lead to new ways of seeing the world!