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THINKING SKILLS - THE‘ ENABLING SKILLS’ (ROB ALDRIGE

ON WHY HE CALLS THINKING SKILLS IS ‘ENABLING SKILLS’)

Thinking Skills is valuable. This is what I try to convince the Lower 6 students of my school at the beginning of every new academic year. Usually I meet with only moderate success as I outline what the course covers and what it requires of students. Many are called but few choose it. We have been told that we are living in the “age of information” and while this has multiple facets and many implications for both teaching and learning, it highlights for me the singular most important reason for studying Thinking Skills. Thinking Skills provides students with the tools to be able, not only to cope with, but to analyse, process, organise and use this very information. Almost daily, and in almost all spheres of life, we are confronted by a barrage of information, presented in vastly differing forms, that demands our attention and very often our action. It is the tools of Thinking Skills that best enable us to deal with that increasingly complex world and the information it contains in phone calls, newspapers, speeches, emails, blogs, letters, television, shops, lectures from parents, and, dare I say it, even schools and teachers themselves. In many other subjects, while the opportunities for teaching these skills are present, and sometimes taken up by teachers, too often the focus there is primarily on the information itself; or, to use the teacher jargon, to deliver content to make students pass an examination. Thinking Skills, though not devoid of content in itself, focuses the learner on skills to deal with content from almost all subject areas. In questions and arguments about science, politics, government policy, or sport that students are inevitably confronted by, what becomes important then, is the thinking and reasoning rather than the content. Secondly, I find the skills of Thinking Skills completely transferable. In this, I do not simply mean that the skills move across the individual subjects that a student may be taking (as important as that is), but what excites me the most is that Thinking Skills is not even bound or restricted by the four walls of my classroom and it does not end with students writing an examination. It is much bigger than that! And I like that, and I value that! Thinking Skills is rooted in the real world in which we live and where we are confronted by problems that require a response from us. And is there a better way to respond, other than to think? In conclusion, I often tell students, parents, and colleagues that the value of Thinking Skills lies in its role as an ‘enabling skill’. In my mind, this is what it enables:1. inquisitiveness 2. creative and independent thought 3. a logical approach to multi-dimensional real problems 4. a critical and reasoned response to information and stimulus

5. a careful and considered assessment of information I would like to think that Thinking Skills readies. for university. students for other A-level examinations. and enables. for the work place and for a lifelong journey of discovery. Rob Aldridge (Zimbabwe) .