Raising Standards in Thinking Skills Using Creative Development in a Year One Class

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Raising Standards in Thinking Skills using Creative Development in a Year One Class According to the Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG) Framework for Children’s Learning (2008), learners should develop their thinking throughout all the Areas of Learning by the processes of planning, developing and reflecting. These processes help learners to obtain a better understanding of the world around them. WAG (2008, p10) suggests that ‘these processes enable children to think creatively and critically, to plan their work, carry out tasks, analyse and evaluate their findings and to reflect on their learning, making links within and outside the setting/school.’ This essay will aim to explain the theories and strategies to develop thinking skills as well as discussing the use of Creative Development, particularly Music in a Year One class. The essay will also discuss how thinking skills can be improved through the use of music in the classroom and suggest further strategies to encourage a ‘thinking classroom’. What is thinking?

From a scientific point of view, thinking is a process in which neurons connect with each other in the brain to pass electrical impulses from cell to cell. The connections are made in two different ways: firstly with the normal maturing of the brain and secondly by the interaction within an environment (Robson, 2006). Research shows that a child with more opportunities for stimulation and encouragement will be able to form better connections and therefore an improved ability to think (Cowley 2004). Thinking is an important tool not only in a school setting but in everyday life. The ability to be able to think clearly, logically as well as creatively is essential for a successful approach to life (Cowley, 2004). Jean Piaget was a prolific figure in the study of children’s thinking and his work concentrated on the development of thinking and how knowledge is obtained. Piaget argued against the traditional view that children were ‘empty vessels’ who received all their knowledge from rote learning, his belief that children learn through their own experimentation and that the role of the adult is to act purely as a facilitator and to provide an environment to assist the child’s development (Robson, 2006) links well with the theories of the Foundation Phase. Thinking within an educational environment allows learners to learn and apply new skills effectively. Lifelong learners need to have the ability to learn not only in school but at home or in a workplace and learning should not only focus on what is being learnt but how the process is taking place (WAG, 2010). Thinking skills can enable learners to gain a deeper understanding of the areas of learning as well as being able to make judgements and decisions rather than jumping to conclusions. An important part of developing thinking skills is ‘metacognition’; thinking about thinking. Learners should be encouraged to think about their learning to make sense of the task they have been set, understand strategies that can be put in place and be able to evaluate their work. This can provide several benefits for both the teacher and the learner: * learners can take ownership of their learning which in turn motivates them; * learners will be more likely to learn for themselves and independently apply their new skills and knowledge; * learners will be more confident with their own thoughts as individuals; * work can be differentiated to suit the individual needs of a learner (Cowley, 2004)

Thinking skills are not based on levels of intelligence and different learners will have different approaches to thinking. Some children will be better at logical thinking to deal with problems they come across, others will develop thinking skills more productively as part of a group and some may be more imaginative with their thinking. These different approaches to thinking have to be taken into account in a whole classroom environment (Cowley, 2004). Learners should be...
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