How to Teach Thinking and Learning Skills: A Practical Programme for the Whole School (Book & CD Rom)

Author(s) C J Simister
Publisher Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd
Published 2007
Pages 176
Price £29.99
ISBN 1412934222
Reviewed by Miss Alex Melrose
Stockport College
Review published 10 July 2007

As the title implies, this book is a practical guide to teaching thinking and learning skills in the primary school, and contains a useful programme entitled Think! which provides structure and advice in introducing and developing these skills.

A first glance at the contents page and the accompanying CD Rom provide the reader with a brief synopsis for the book, chapter titles providing the raison d’etre as to why thinking and learning skills should be taught in the first instance, then a more practical application in the form of useful classroom activities.

In effect, the author would like to create a utopian school in which there is a big culture shift away from didactic teaching to one in which “the teacher is engaged in the wonder of thinking together with his or her pupils.” She advocates this as an idealistic future development for schools. Indeed, the whole field of metacognition is something that a growing number of practitioners are taking more of an interest in as the growing trend for individualised learning can be illustrated. Therefore, it is important that there is an understanding of how we think and learn and how it is important to be aware of how we think and learn in order to be better learners.

It would be very easy and tempting for a practitioner to pick up this book and start using it straight away, so the author spends the first third of the book justifying the importance of teaching thinking and learning skills and putting into perspective the sorts of areas it covers in very readable terms. The chapters are short and well set out so that the reader can digest readable chunks of information at a time.

The practicalities of teaching thinking and learning skills are introduced in the Think! Programme, which provides a comprehensive set of activities to accompany each year group in the primary range. Unlike many teaching schemes where there is one set of resources per year group, thus if the school wants to adopt it, the cost can be rather high, this scheme consists of just the one book and includes the useful CD Rom.

The author puts into perspective the importance of teaching thinking and learning skills providing clear explanations and easy to follow activities that can be used as a series of lessons, or simply as a one off. As a resource for the primary practitioner it is both practical and informative.