Our world and the world of the future demand that all students are supported to become effective and skilful thinkers. Thinking validates existing knowledge and enables individuals to create new knowledge and to build ideas and make connections between them. It entails reasoning and inquiry together with processing and evaluating information. It enables the exploration of perceptions and possibilities. It also involves the capacity to plan, monitor and evaluate one’s own thinking, and refine and transform ideas and beliefs.
The Thinking Processes domain encompasses a range of cognitive, affective and metacognitive knowledge, skills and behaviours which are essential for students to function effectively in society, both within and beyond school.
An explicit focus on thinking and the teaching of thinking skills aims to develop students’ thinking to a qualitatively higher level. Students need to be supported to move beyond the lower-order cognitive skills of recall and comprehension to the development of higher-order processes required for creative problem solving, decision making and conceptualising. In addition, they need to develop the capacity for metacognition – the capacity to reflect on and manage their own thinking. This can only happen if the school and classroom culture values and promotes thinking and if students are provided with sufficient time to think, reflect, and engage in sustained discussion, deliberation and inquiry. Students need challenging tasks which stimulate, encourage and support skilful and effective thinking.
A focus on the development of thinking competencies within specific areas of the curriculum and across it not only serves as a core integrative function, it also has the potential to provide continuity in approaches to learning from Prep to Year 10 and to emphasise the view that such knowledge, skills and behaviours are important to lifelong learning. To emphasise this, teachers model skilful and effective thinking and make their own thinking explicit as part of their everyday practice.
Thinking skills can be defined in a variety of ways. Many different taxonomies and models for teaching thinking have been developed. Each classification scheme has its strengths and weaknesses. However, whatever the system or systems being used, all seek to improve the quality of student thinking.