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A song for the cynics

Discussion of thinking skills has exercised the letter writers, says Diane Hofkins

In the brief life of Primary Forum, the article that has attracted most response was Mark Edwards' commentary on thinking skills (22 November).

Mark has been taken to task for being so cynical. He noted that many of the so-called "new" ideas have simply resurfaced after a seemly gap of more than a decade. He also dreaded what would happen when the Department for Education and Skills gets its claws into thinking skills, "I just know it will be boring and have nothing to do with real creativity."

But others had faith that teachers would overcome the dead hand of government. Steve Trickey of Clackmannanshire wrote: "If he really is as passionate about promoting critical and creative thinking skills as he implies, he should be less defeatist.

"We cannot ignore the evidence that has accumulated, particularly over the past 10 years, that supports developments in teacher questioning skills, classroom dialogue and pupil awareness as to how they think and learn.

"Yes, we do need to nurture enquiry, wise judgments, communication skills etc. Let us work to create a climate that makes this more likely."

And Philip Adey, director of the centre for the advancement of thinking at King's College London, wrote that Mark Edwards "should be less pessimistic and have more faith in the wonderful ability of teachers to subvert, very professionally, the convergent behaviourism of the mandarins." (TES Letters, December 6) He has also pointed out a small error. The publisher of the teaching resource Let's Think, mentioned in the article, is NferNelson, not Nelson, which no longer exists.

On the other hand, Dorothea Went, a part-time primary teacher from Chelmsford (who does not have the energy to do it full-time any more, she writes) seems to share Mark's cynicism, and penned this version of the Hokey Cokey:

"What goes around, comes around!," she says. So let's all be nostalgic, get into a nice big circle, and after me, let's all sing Do the Hokey Cokey Curric'lum.

Hope you joined in there.

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