December 2010


Teaching Thinking Skills
Maxine Ping

On 8 December, Maxine Ping led TEN participants on a Thinking Skills Journey.  After a brief introduction about the growing realisation that Thinking Skills need to be taught both to children and adults in today’s world and are not necessarily automatically acquired through formal education, the journey began.

After putting on their ‘thinking caps’, which strongly resembled Father Christmas hats and fortified with mince pies, the passage through different educational stages started for the adult children.

At Kindergarten level, a visual example was given and transfer to a different situation then facilitated using picture instructions.

Year 1 and 2 work focused on riddles and then added two more instructions, one of which was open-ended. Further examples of Year 2 or possibly Year 3 tasks were presented in the form of written scenarios with a mathematical element.

Suggested answers were given and some of the participants were keen to argue for different problem solutions, so thinking was beginning to have an effect.

Year 3 and 4 examples also followed a mathematical theme using elimination, given known facts (4 steps now). Deduction played a key role in tasks for the upper primary students in Years 4 and 5 as well as using pictorial clues and prior knowledge.

Good noisy discussion was stimulated by this task and it was soon realised that very often there is no one correct answer, which is a hard concept for children and even some adults to grasp.

The final stage of the journey introduced the work of Edward De Bono, which can be adapted for all ages, and the practice concept was PMI (plus, Minus and Interest), an organised way to examine the pros and cons of an idea and to creatively extend this.

Participants worked in groups and fed back ideas and comments showing excellent analytical and creative thinking.

The session ended with mention of how Maxine had used some of these techniques for research and an appeal for these to be used, not only in the workplace but also in everyday life.

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