Teaching Thinking in Maltese Primary Schools.
Maltese Primary Education is undergoing a fundamental change. The epithet that I would like the current phase to be remembered by, should somewhat read as follows: "It was the time when the system shifted from an exclusive concentration on content based teaching to a system which started to value the learning of competencies".
A major thrust in this direction is the implementation of a thinking skills programme in Maltese schools, based on Dr. Edward de Bono's thinking tools. The traditional educational system teaches children WHAT to think and WHY to think. With the introduction of lessons in thinking, pupils now have the opportunity to learn HOW to think.
When I was first approached to support the introduction of the programme in Maltese schools, emphasis was made that de Bono's thinking tools can easily be learnt by all age groups and all learning abilities. I latched onto that statement and requested that the project should initially be implemented in a number of schools where the socio-economic conditions of the catchment areas translated in a higher than average number of children at risk attending the said schools. The challenge was taken up and the team has given proof that thinking is not the exclusive realm of the gifted.
With some instruction and practice, children from the whole ability spectrum acquired confidence to think, to contribute to a discussion and to feel that their contribution is valid. The children attained the competence to focus on a situation from a variety of angles and to sustain their concentration for longer periods.
Above all, they discovered that thinking is fun and that they all have brains, which function, as well as anyone else's where thinking is concerned. Maximum benefit was obtained when realization took place that the Edward De Bono Thinking Skills programme can be useful in a number of practical situations in the classroom as well as in situations arising outside the classroom.
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A note of commendation about the methodology used in the implementation of the project is also appropriate. The prior consultation held between the Education Division and University based personnel led to a harmonious collaboration between the two stakeholders. Personal and Social Education was identified as the Curriculum area within which the direct teaching of thinking skills should best be "housed". The project was implemented in a number of pilot schools. Prior to further dissemination in other schools, the pilot scheme was researched and evaluated, and this particular publication has ensued. It is truly a breakthrough in how innovatory teaching projects are being handled and it is a harbinger of the way similar exercises will henceforth be managed.
I am looking forward to the next stages of development of this particular project, namely,
- The dissemination of the programme throughout all Maltese primary schools on a national level.
- The implementation of the quality of methods and materials used in the class through discussion and collaboration within the team of teachers.
- The transfer of thinking skills from the �Thinking Class' to other areas of learning in the Primary School Curriculum.
I wish to reaffirm my fullest support and personal contribution towards the successful implementation of this educational programme.
Director General, Education Division, Malta