By Dr Dorothy Howie, author of Teaching Students Thinking Skills and Strategies: A Framework for Cognitive Education in Inclusive Settings.
The teaching of thinking has become one of the central developments in education over recent decades, and now thought is being given to how this can occur in a way which is of benefit to all learners – i.e. in an inclusive way. The United Nations’ 2006 Convention on the Protection of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities requires that we make a commitment to ‘the development of persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and fullest potential’, with the goal of inclusion and lifetime participation in society. Internationally, countries are increasingly requiring through their national curriculum frameworks that the teaching of thinking is embedded in the curriculum, and generic through whole-school teaching and learning.
Having had a long career of teaching and research in both the teaching of thinking and inclusion, I was commissioned by Jessica Kingsley to write the new book, Teaching Students Thinking Skills and Strategies, which puts forward a framework for the teaching of thinking in an inclusive way. In line with frameworks for curricula in areas such as literacy and the meeting of social and emotional needs in the UK context, and the ‘Response to Intervention’ policy requirements in the USA, the book outlines a three tier framework, as follows :
- Tier 1: Teaching thinking for all, with approaches which are integral to all classroom teaching and learning.
- Tier 2: Working with small groups for those needing further particular attention to the teaching of thinking, because of their shared exceptional needs.
- Tier 3: Working with individuals who need further individual attention, beyond Tier 2, because of considerable and complex learning needs.
The book then covers internationally recognised and well researched approaches to the teaching of thinking which can be used at each tier level. Some approaches, such as Vygotsky’s socio-cultural approach, with its strong focus on the learning process and the centrality of social interaction in the mediation of thinking, and Feuerstein’s Theory of Mediated Learning Experience and the wide range of process-oriented tools for assessment and cognitive education arising from this theory, are covered at each tier level. Others, such as Sternberg’s metacognitve/metacomponential approach with its learning process focus and the problem solving cycle which arises from it, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory, and Swartz and Parks’ infused approach to the teaching of thinking, are covered at one or two tier levels.
As each of the approaches are covered at each tier level, I present clear guidance as to what in those approaches is of particular value in meeting learners’ needs at that tier level, and a clear example of the use of the approach at that tier level is given. The examples are carefully drawn, often from the research done by myself and my colleagues and research students, with particular attention to how the use of the approach at that tier level is addressing – in an inclusive way – the needs of all students.
This book is unique in making a comprehensive and systematic attempt to bring together the teaching of thinking and inclusion. It is also unique in its strong and consistent focus on the culturally appropriate and sensitive use of approaches to the teaching of thinking, so that the needs of all learners from culturally unique contexts can be addressed. I have done much of my own research with the teaching of thinking in the multicultural context of New Zealand, (this research is reported in my earlier book, Thinking about the Teaching of Thinking) and I am committed to the affirmation and enhancement of the unique ways of thinking embedded culturally in each learner, and learnt within their own unique historical, family and social context. There are strong examples of the teaching of thinking in this way within the book.
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Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2011.