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All about Robert Fisher’s thinking skills

All about thinking skills: from definition to the teaching methods

Robert Fisher's thinking skills

Dr. Robert Fisher is a professor of education at Brunel University. He taught for more than 20 years in schools in the UK, Africa and Hong Kong. One of Robert’s main research areas is thinking skills, on which he has written books like “Teaching Children to Think”, “Teaching Children to Learn”, “Teaching Thinking, and more. Now, after a small overview, let’s see the theme more in detail.

Robert Fisher’s thinking skills: definition and the most important

A thinking skill is a practical ability to think in ways that are judged to be effective. They are the habits of intelligent behaviour learned through practice. The different capacities of the human mind are endless. Some examples can be:

  • Remembering
  • Questioning
  • Planning
  • Reasoning
  • Imagining

So, as we have just said, these capacities are endless. However, are there some key skills in human thinking? About this, Bloom realised a taxonomy of thinking skills in 1956. It has widely used by teachers in planning their teaching and they considered them as the cognitive goals of education. The list of skills consist of:

  • Knowledge
  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Evaluation

Most of the growth in the human brain occurs in early childhood. The intervention while the brain is still growing may be effective in developing one’s thinking skills. Cognitive challenge is important at all stages, but most especially in the early years of education. Teaching children to develop their thinking skills is important to fulfill human potential, in order to meet the demands of the labour market or of active citizenship.

But the general importance of the thinking skills resides in some specific elements.

  • The complexity of modern jobs requires people who can comprehend, judge and participate in generating new knowledge and processes.
  • Modern democratic societies require its citizens to assimilate information from multiple sources, determine its truth and use it to make sound judgments.

So, the challenge is to develop educational programs that enable all individuals, not just an elite, to become effective thinkers because these competencies are now required of everyone.

Thinking skills: how they are taught in classrooms

Researchers have identified a specific number of teaching strategies that one can use to help to stimulate children’s analytical thinking in the classroom. These can be summarised as:

  • Cognitive acceleration approaches
  • Brain-based approaches
  • Philosophical approaches

Many other approaches also include the use diagrams, “graphic organisers” or “concept maps“. These represent an aids to make thinking visual and explicit. This information-processing technique encourages children to extend their thinking into visually memorable ideas.

Computers can also help to develop children’s learning skills. In this case, the challenge for a teacher is to find best ways to use computers in order to encourage thinking and discussion between children.

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