Thinking Skills



                                                                                                                                      Martin Heidegger

The vision of Broadhurst School is: “To create, together with the family, a caring environment of learning and experience, in which children may develop their potential to the full, may acquire the knowledge and the skills to equip them for living, may experience the best that the human spirit has achieved, may develop respect for themselves, for other people and the world around them and have the courage to make a difference in the future.”

At Broadhurst, we implement this vision by focusing on teaching tools that drive a thinking skills curriculum. Children are capable of thinking constructively independently and our focus is to impart life-long tools, so that the children become skilful, critical and creative thinkers. These implemented tools, encourage the children to think more deeply and creatively topics. Skilful thinking is challenging and requires continuous practice and reflection.

We value thinking at Broadhurst and in our methodology we make thinking skills explicit. We use cognitive terminology and label and identify cognitive processes. We practise Buzan Mind Mapping, Dr. De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and Dr. David Hyerle’s Thinking Maps.

Skilful, critical and creative thinking can be achieved by implementing Dr, De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats. As Dr. De Bono explains. ‘by applying the Six Thinking Hats to learning process, we add colour to thinking and thinking becomes a game.’   Each Thinking Hat represents a process associated with guiding questions to achieve optimal thinking. For example, the Yellow Thinking Hat explores the benefit of a situation and a guiding question would be: ‘What is the value of this information?’ Once the children have an understanding of the function of each Hat and the associated guiding questions, they will be able to apply the Six Thinking Hats to all areas of the curriculum to achieve skilful, critical and creative thinking during the learning process. In-depth thinking is achieved when the Six Thinking Hats are used in a sequence. Depending on how the Hats are sequenced, a problem-solving or lateral thinking outcome will be achieved.

At Broadhurst, we would like the children to develop specific thought processes, such as, part to whole relationships. Dr. Hyerle’s eight Thinking Maps are visual tools that can be implemented to achieve this. Each Thinking Map and thought process has specific academic vocabulary associated with it. For example, the Bridge Map’s specific academic vocabulary is: interpret symbols, allegory and ratio. To develop the children’s metacognitive skill, that is, children thinking about their thinking, a Frame of Refence can be applied to the Thinking Map. The Frame of Reference provides the children with the opportunity to reflect on their thinking. Children ‘press the pause button in the thinking’ in the learning process and deliberately stop and ask themselves what, why and how they are learning. When applying high order questioning, children develop metacognitive skills and the thinking process is dealt with in more depth.   

As teachers in the Broadhurst thinking environment, we strive to be facilitators. The tools we apply to the curriculum, encourage learning that is driven by posing challenging questions, problems that stimulate the imagination and lead to further independent inquiry. Children are encouraged to assess their own learning, question their own and others’ assumptions and to value others’ view points by maintaining a safe, non-judgemental learning atmosphere.

The Thinking Tools we employ allow us to create learning environments in which the individual influences the group’s thinking and the group influences the individual’s thinking. Teachers apply instructional techniques that encourage group activities which help children construct their own and shared knowledge. Collaborative learning situations encourage children to realise the interconnections and coherence of divergent views and it also teachers them to listen with empathy and understanding.

The Broadhurst Vision statement, “… have the courage to make a difference to the future.” The Thinking Tools we apply to the curriculum, encourage our children to ‘think big’. The Thinking Tools develop thoughtful and peaceful approaches to solving problems. The tools encourage the children to engage in respectful dialogue to resolve misunderstandings while respecting the diversity of other cultures.

As Alan Kay stated, ‘the best way to predict the future is to invent it.’ At Broadhurst we empower our children with life-long Thinking Tools that will help them invent a future that is more thoughtful, cooperative, compassionate and loving. We believe this type of future begins in our school today and the Thinking Tools employed develop a learning process that offers a multitude of possibilities for the future.

Professional Development at Broadhurst Primary School

Growth Mindset Training with Mike Gershon

In 2018, our teachers participated in an online Growth Mindset course through an educational company in the United Kingdom. The Growth Mindset advocates that all individuals are capable of change. Achieving a learning environment that incorporates the Growth Mindset, is a lengthy process which we continue to work on daily.

The Learning Pit

In February 2019 a group of teachers attended a workshop at Saint Peter’s School in South Africa on the Learning Pit. The workshop was led by James Nottingham from the United Kingdom. The emphasis was on how we can apply tools, like the Learning Pit, to all areas of the curriculum to create challenging thinking environments that require a high level of collaboration to achieve meaningful learning.

Dr, David Hyerle’s Thinking Maps

Currently, the teachers are doing an online course through an American company to further develop their understanding of the Thinking Maps. The course reviews the academic language and guiding questions associated with the eight Thinking Maps. The Frame of Reference is explored in detail to ensure optimal metacognition is practised in the learning environment. The course encourages the use of Thinking Maps in a variety of combinations to ensure different levels of thinking are practised within a unit of work. As reading is an important part of the Broadhurst curriculum, the course provides effective use of the Thinking Maps in the instruction of vocabulary development, text features and text structures. At Broadhurst the teaching of Mathematics is teaching with understanding and encouraging the children to explore multiple strategies when manipulating a problem. The Thinking Maps course provides the teachers with methodology that applies the Thinking Maps to a multitude of concepts in Mathematics. The online training provides the teachers with variety of strategies to apply the Thinking Maps effectively to all areas of the curriculum to create learning environments that foster a culture of constructive thinking.