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The teaching of critical thinking skills in grade three classes at three primary schools in Kuilsriver
The change in focus of the curriculum policy statements since 1996 have caused many teachers to feel abandoned and helpless in their pursuit of the objectives of the new curriculum. One of the issues that leads to this feeling of abandonment is that of critical thinking. A stated objective of the new curriculum is that learners must be able to engage critically with their environment. However, leading learners to be able to do this seems to be lacking. Classroom practice currently, does not address this adequately and in many cases, the ability and capacity to nurture a critical thinking classroom environment is absent. The teachers who participated in this study recognised that in order for them to be more successful in terms of the curriculum objectives, critical thinking as a core competency had to be developed as a strategic imperative. They also recognised that viewing the child in their class in isolation from their environment is fatally flawed. The child after all is a product of his/her environment. It is for this reason, that this study used the Productive Pedagogies as a basis for the research. This approach was selected because of its comprehensive quality in terms of viewing the development of the child holistically. The ability of the child to connect to his environment is dependent on the capacity of the school as a forum to draw all of the threads together and then to make meaning. The teachers on their own would not be able to do this without the help of their institutions. The development of critical thinking must be recognised at the level of management as a key classroom strategy that must be managed and supported. This would imply that important curriculum discussions and decisions must be based on how the teaching of these skills will be affected. The significance of critical thinking and the weak systemic evaluation results prompted this study to investigate whether the teaching of critical thinking skills is part of everyday classroom practice. The instrument of the Productive Pedagogies for classroom observations was used to obtain quantitative information. Interviews with the educators were also conducted to add to the qualitative data.