Ashfield Public School logo

Ashfield Public School

Ashfield Public School

Every child, every opportunity

Telephone02 9798 4400

Teaching thinking

A proficient teacher, as described by The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, must select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop the critical and creative thinking of all students.

Research proposes a dispositional approach to the teaching of thinking. This is about teachers modelling and explicitly teaching specific dispositions that give students the skills and ability to engage in, and sustain successful thinking as a lifelong pursuit. 

While different research identifies different dispositions, there is consensus about the importance of dispositions as enabling good thinking. Some identified dispositions are:

1.     The disposition to be broad and adventurous: Students are taught to be open-minded, to explore alternative views, and to be alert to narrow thinking. Teachers should create for students, a range of interesting and engaging learning opportunities, and a variety of ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding.

2.     The disposition toward sustained intellectual curiosity: Students are taught to probe, to find problems, to be alert for anomalies, to observe closely and to formulate questions. Teachers should inspire and model a zest for inquiry and a wonder for learning.  

3.     The disposition to clarify and seek understanding: Students are taught to be alert to unclarity and to build conceptualisations. Teachers should model the desire to understand clearly and the motivation to seek connections and explanations.

4.     The disposition to be planful and strategic: Students are taught to be alert to lack of direction and to formulate goals and plans. Teachers should nurture the drive in their students to set goals, to make and execute plans, and to envision outcomes.

5.     The disposition to be intellectually careful: Students are taught to be alert to possible error or inaccuracy. Teachers should nurture the urge for precision, organisation and thoroughness.

6.     The disposition to seek and evaluate reasons: Students are taught to question the given, to demand justification and be alert for the need for evidence. Teachers should enable time for and encourage investigation, and show value for the importance of mistakes as part of the learning process.

7.     The disposition be metacognitive: Students are taught to reflect on and evaluate the productiveness of their own thinking. Teachers should demonstrate how they question their own strategies for learning and how they evaluate the efficiency of their own performance.

Like all schools, it is the task of Ashfield Public School to instil in each of our students, the dispositions that are required for them to be creative and critical thinkers. It is our job to create the conditions where students are able to learn and apply the dispositions as they explore, probe, strategise, are reflective, adventurous and reasonable, and successfully engage in the world as effective and lifelong learners.


Shari Tishman Eileen Jay David N. Perkins (1993) Teaching Thinking Dispositions: From Transmission to Enculturation