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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable help for teachers of thinking skills
As the authors make clear, this book is aimed particularly at inexperienced teachers of Thinking Skills or Critical Thinking, almost all of whom specialize in some other subject. But I doubt if any teachers are so competent or so experienced that they will not find something of value here.

The metaphor "toolkit" in the title is apt. No reader is likely to...
Published on 13 Oct. 2010 by Colin23

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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fails to deliver
The authors of this book claim to `have unique thinking skills subject knowledge and understanding of course design'. However, I am very puzzled as to how unique this knowledge and understanding is, because the book provides scant evidence of either of these areas. In addition, they claim to have unparalleled experience of assessment methodologies and insight into the...
Published on 27 Sept. 2010 by Bookworm


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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable help for teachers of thinking skills, 13 Oct. 2010
This review is from: The Thinking Teacher's Toolkit: Critical Thinking, Thinking Skills and Global Perspectives (Paperback)
As the authors make clear, this book is aimed particularly at inexperienced teachers of Thinking Skills or Critical Thinking, almost all of whom specialize in some other subject. But I doubt if any teachers are so competent or so experienced that they will not find something of value here.

The metaphor "toolkit" in the title is apt. No reader is likely to need all the tools in the box, but many teachers - especially those who are new to the subject - will make use of a lot of them. Between them, the authors have an exceptionally broad experience in teaching and assessing thinking skills.

The book contains a lot of practical suggestions for both planning and teaching, especially for the beginning of a course. This book will save teachers a lot of time. In particular, chapter 2 suggests how to begin a course in either of two styles, in which the thinking skills are either taught explicitly or embedded in the discussion of interesting issues.

As the authors rightly point out, teachers of this subject constantly face the dilemma of whether to focus on interesting issues or on preparation for the exam. If a full ration of time is available, they can do both. Some of the ideas in this book would be too tangential for use in preparing students for an exam, but chapter 8 ends with some very valuable hints for success in exams.

Although the specimen dialogues are stilted, every teacher will know how to adapt them for their own use. Some of the suggested teaching points will apply to the most able students only, but teachers will know what they need to leave out.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, practical guide to teaching thinking skills, 2 Oct. 2010
This review is from: The Thinking Teacher's Toolkit: Critical Thinking, Thinking Skills and Global Perspectives (Paperback)
The teacher of Critical Thinking or Thinking Skills-type courses faces two quite distinct challenges. The first is to become familiar with the content and particular assessment objectives of the qualification they are responsible for. The second is to develop strategies for teaching, and to understand the different ways in which effective learning might take place in the classroom.

This highly practical guide addresses itself very firmly towards the latter of these two requirements. One of its key strengths is the provision of suggested classroom sequences linked to the types of skills being developed by different kinds of course. A fundamental distinction drawn in the first part of the book is between explicit and embedded skills teaching: testing discrete skills directly or drawing out their application as part of the exploration of a topic. As the authors point out, different qualifications assess in different ways, and require varying balances of these approaches at different points in the course. Some judgement is therefore required by the teacher approaching this part of the book: not all of the approaches will be equally useful for the course being taught, and not all of the suggested scenarios will be plausible for the particular students you are teaching. However, drawing out demonstrable skills from students using structured discussion is one of the hardest tasks for a teacher to successfully develop, and this book is invaluable in providing concrete and specific examples of how this might be achieved.

The final two parts of the book take a broader view, interrogating the presuppositions of Critical Thinking within an international context, exploring the application of thinking skills to a range of other curriculum subjects and considering the different assessment and teaching requirements of a range of qualifications of this type. Here again, some of the discussions might not seem of immediate relevance. Depending on your context, however, there is much here that could be of vital importance: a thinking skills approach has the potential to transform the quality of analysis and argument students bring to other subjects, and for some newer qualifications, like Pre-U Global Perspectives and Research, this is currently the only published guide to offer specific advice. Most importantly of all however, this guide for thinking teachers invites teachers to think, both about what we want our students to be able to do, and the different ways in which this can be achieved. For that reason alone, it is well worth purchasing.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A teacher's perspective, 20 Oct. 2010
This review is from: The Thinking Teacher's Toolkit: Critical Thinking, Thinking Skills and Global Perspectives (Paperback)
This book has plenty to offer both the new and the more experienced teacher of critical thinking. In addition, it provides guidance on how to tackle the increasingly important global dimension. It is not a book to read chapter-by-chapter in sequence. It works better as a resource to refer to for practical solutions when a thinking skills or global education programme is set up for the first time, or when ideas are needed in the course of teaching the programme. There are plenty of ideas for classroom activities, suggestions for resources, guidance on preparing students for assessment, and an introduction to the theories which underpin thinking skills as a discipline. Highly recommended.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fails to deliver, 27 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Thinking Teacher's Toolkit: Critical Thinking, Thinking Skills and Global Perspectives (Paperback)
The authors of this book claim to `have unique thinking skills subject knowledge and understanding of course design'. However, I am very puzzled as to how unique this knowledge and understanding is, because the book provides scant evidence of either of these areas. In addition, they claim to have unparalleled experience of assessment methodologies and insight into the difficulties teachers face in teaching thinking skills and critical thinking'. The justification of this latter claim is not provided although the authors perhaps sensed that they can't provide it, because later they downgrade themselves to having merely `considerable experience'.

Raising problems with these initial claims is not just being mischievous. For Critical Thinking, we are often looking for support for claims. One can't just claim anything and that makes it `true'. I have to say, as a teacher of thinking skills (including Critical Thinking) whose experience probably goes further back than either of these two authors can claim, that the book has a number of negative qualities.

The first of these is that the material provided (and the suggestions made) are often pretty dull. Getting students in their first lesson to debate whether the fictitious Donna should leave school at the age of 16 would switch most students (and teachers) off doing a thinking skills course. In an important sense, who cares? Far better to start with real examples and real evidence: an advert, a recent piece of statistical evidence, a real claim.

Secondly, much of the suggested dialogue between students and teacher is so stilted that both students and teacher would be keen for the lesson to end.

Third, there seems to be something of an agenda going on. Why is the OCR A-level in Critical Thinking commended so strongly (stressing the link with Cambridge Assessment, thus being based on `considerable expertise' and explaining that there is `plenty of support' for teachers and students), whereas the AQA version is seen much less positively, with even a reference to part of it worrying `some teachers and students'.

The claim by the authors that they're going to help new teachers get to grip with teaching this subject is not one that should tempt any of those who are looking for such help. There is little here that will produce the intellectual creativity and excitement that comes from a good thinking skills lesson.
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars nothing of value, 28 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: The Thinking Teacher's Toolkit: Critical Thinking, Thinking Skills and Global Perspectives (Paperback)
There is an increasing number of books which claim to offer something of value for the student and teacher of thinking skills (including Critical Thinking). Any new book therefore has to offer something additional to what is already available. Unfortunately this book does not do this.

It is difficult to see what teacher would benefit from it. Given that the authors see themselves as providing teaching strategies and ideas `primarily' for teachers of specific programmes, it is doubtful that the section on definitional issues offers anything of value to such teachers. The programmes that they'll be teaching (A-level Critical Thinking, A-level Knowledge and Inquiry, Pre-U, and so on) will all have taken a particular definition as the starting point for the examined content. Thus the teacher will not need to be concerned (in the classroom) with variations in definitions.

This point takes us to a related one. The classroom teacher who is concerned with putting together a programme for students following a specific course will have at their disposal a range of dedicated books and other material that will do this much better than this book. Thus the section `Tools for Assessment' has nothing useful to add to the already prolific exam-related guidance that is currently available. In trying to hit a lot of targets, this book hits none of them.

At times, the book read as if it was a series of chapters put together with little thought as to any coherence. For example, why does our teacher who is seeking to put together a course which lead to a specific qualification in the UK need to learn about the Australian Council of Education Research UniTest or the SAT test in the US? This sort of information will be useful for those wanting to compare programmes and qualifications, but not as part of what is described as a `toolkit' for the classroom.

In the end, the author's boast that `everything you require to become a thinking teacher is packed into the toolkit' is embarrassingly over-stated. Much of it is unnecessary and what there is that might have been of value is better provided in other sources.
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