Within reason

19th June 2009 at 01:00

The article about OCR's new level 2 thinking and reasoning skills being a "soft skill" ("Abductions and UFOs: new exam will chart alien territory", June 5) may have led your readers to false conclusions.

The qualification is concerned with developing skills of reasoning and argument, together with problem-solving and interpretation of data and evidence. Many people believe that building these skills into an academic programme increases its rigour and pupils who lack them have insufficient grounding for postgraduate study.[QQ] There is an ill-informed false opposition between thinking and reasoning skills and "subject knowledge".

In truth, there can be no subject knowledge and understanding without the ability to analyse and evaluate arguments and evidence, clarify concepts, establish connections, synthesise data and information, ask intelligent questions and generate and critically evaluate explanations.[QQ] Sadly, some people choose to highlight the possible topics of interest to Year 10s and ignore the actual prescribed content of the discipline itself.Geoff Willis, Chief examiner, OCR

Beth Black Senior research officer, Cambridge Assessment.

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