In the first of a series of three articles, Margaret Cooling introduces us to using thinking skills in RE. Margaret is well known for her expertise in RE and as a writer, speaker and trainer.
The very phrase 'Thinking Skills' makes some teachers nervous. It comes attached to words such as 'philosophy' and most of us weren't trained to teach philosophy. Thinking skills, however, incorporate many of the good practices that already happen in RE. Many teachers do it instinctively. You will find skills for thinking listed in the National Curriculum (England) and all of them can be used in RE.
1. Information processing skills: locating and using relevant information using skills of analysis and interpretation.
2. Reasoning skills: giving reasons for responses, making deductions and judgements.
3. Enquiry skills: asking relevant questions, testing conclusions, etc.
4. Creative thinking skills: generating ideas, looking for alternatives and using imagination when thinking.
5. Evaluation skills: developing criteria for judging and evaluating information.
Where RE and thinking skills meet
Robert Fisher outlines several areas where religion provides fruitful opportunities for thinking.
Have fun thinking
Activities for thinking skills can be fun. They do not have to be frightening! The following card games use some of the skills listed above. These games can be played using sets of cards with religious pictures or words. (Gordon Raggett's Christmas Activity Pack is ideal for this - available from The Stapleford Centre; click here and select the reviewed books category to order.)
If this article has whetted your appetite to discover more about using thinking skills in RE, check out the new service for RE teachers, the REthinking Network. Click here for more details. There is also a list of useful websites available by clicking here.