Making sense – thinking skills

I read an interesting article written by three ladies: Ms Irmeli Halinen, Ms Minna Harmanen and Ms Paula Mattila. They are discribing the Curriculun reform in Finland specially focusing the question: why Finland is Introducing Multiliteracy in Teaching and Learning. You can read the whole article here.

In the Finnish Core Curriculum, the objectives for learning are described as seven areas of competence. These areas are:

  1. Thinking skills and learning to learn
  2. Cultural competence, interaction and expression
  3. Managing daily life, taking care of oneself and others
  4. Multiliteracy
  5. ICT (IT)-competence
  6. Working life and entrepreneurial competence
  7. Participation, influence and building a sustainable future.


Halinen, Harmanen and Mattila write: ”These areas are frequently interconnected. Their joint objective is, in line with the mission of basic education and taking the pupils’ age into account, to support growth as a human being and to impart competences required for membership in a democratic society and for a sustainable way of living. It is particularly vital to encourage pupils to recognise their uniqueness, their personal strengths and development potential, and to appreciate themselves. Every competence area includes knowledge and skills, and ability to use them in various situations in the best possible way. Values and attitudes are also important elements of competences. They have a key role in the formation of motivation and ability to use knowledge and skills in constructive and respectful ways. In the Finnish curriculum process, we have added the fifth element to every transversal competence, and that is will – meaning both willingness and willpower to use knowledge and skills for promoting good. (FNBE, 2014; OECD, 2015; Engeström, 2008).”


I got interested about competence number one: Thinking skills. How to teach those skills and what they really are? We may for example put those skills into two categories: cognitive and reflective. If cognitive thinking is gathering information then basic understanding and productive thinking are reflective thinking metacognition– thinking about thinking.

thinkingUsually those mental processes helps us to solve problems, ask questions, make decisions, evaluate ideas (self, pair, group, peer), organize and handle information and create something new and unique. There are many frameworks of thinking, for instance Fast and slow thinking by Daniel Kahneman, Bloom´s Taxonomy of Learning Domains, de Bono´s Six Thinking Hats and Kolb´s theory of Experiential learning.

In the base of Finnish curriculum reform are Citizen skills, see page 15. One dimension of those Citizen skills is thinking skills like:

– Problem-solving, reasoning and argumentation

– Critical, analytical and systemic thinking

– Creative and innovative thinking


By training teachers to improve their competences to teach thinking skills helps them to teach their pupils to face 21st century challenges. This is one important part of Teacher Academy Finland and the teacher training program. Welcome on board.