Thinking about thinking

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By Sue Cowleyeducational author and trainer

Take a look at these philosophical brainteasers and encourage children to think in new ways

Girl thinking

With so many external pressures on schools, teachers and children to achieve, it’s easy for us to lose sight of the bigger picture – to forget to ask important questions such as ‘who am I?’ or ‘what is my place in the world?’. Spending time on philosophical and critical thinking can boost learning and behaviour in subjects across the curriculum. It’s about teaching children how to think, rather than what to think.


What’s the teacher’s role

Your role is as a facilitator – asking questions, guiding discussions, providing different stimuli and extending the children’s thinking. For instance:

  • Ask a general question to get started: What makes a good friend?
  • Ask a specific question to focus the thinking: That’s a good idea: can anyone link that to something else we’ve said?
  • Encourage the children to develop a hypothesis: Can anyone tell me what they think happened here?
  • Explore connections between ideas: How does that link up with what we were saying earlier?

Consider your seating arrangements – ideally you want the children to be comfortable and at ease – on cushions or beanbags if you have them.

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