Watford Schools Trust

Providing RE Resources for local schools


Thinking Skills and RE

The following article is reproduced by kind permission of The Stapleford Centre.

It is taken from ‘Cracking RE’, Issue 17, Spring 2002, page 47

The term ‘thinking skills’ conjures up images of Star Trek’s Mr Spock saying, ‘Is it logical, Captain?’ In some there is a fear of creating a generation of Mr Spocks: cold and logical - even if without the pointy ears. Such an image is far from the truth.

The following may dispel a few myths:

  • Different forms of intelligence are recognised. This includes visual, social, linguistic, musical and bodily intelligence as well as logical/mathmatical intelligence.
  • Thinking skills and creativity go together. ‘Creative thinking’ occurs in all subjects.
  • Thinking skills are a way of pupils developing problem solving skills.
  • Emotions are not ignored; social intelligence involves being aware of oneself and others.

A thinking environment
In order for pupils to have the courage to suggest new ideas, there needs to be a safe and free environment which consists of the following:

  • an atmosphere of acceptance and empathy where ideas are valued and encouraged
  • time to think and follow the pupils’ interests, assisting them where necessary
  • open ended questions that focus on the pupils’ thinking
  • respect by teachers for the pupils’ independence and decision making
  • active interest and listening by the teacher, who is also willing to share the ‘risk’ of experimenting with ideas
  • viewing mistakes as a learning experience
  • a recognition that we enquire together as equals: the teacher is not the expert
  • a ‘think now, judge later’ attitude where pupils suggest and play with ideas, following them through to see where they lead; a situation that avoids external judgement
  • a ‘can-do’ optimistic mentality

Why thinking skills and RE?

RE can provide the occasion for depth and development in thinking which does not exclude the reflective side of the subject. Thinking skills in RE would cover:

  • learning to discuss personal beliefs and those that are shared with others; thinking about the way in which beliefs form part of a person’s identity
  • thinking about mystery and transcendence; this includes wonder at the natural world and the sense of a divine being
  • searching for meaning and purpose in life; asking the big questions
  • relationships and values
  • creativity - expressing thoughts, beliefs and feelings through art, music, literature etc

One RE example would be the use of ‘Scamper’, a tool that can be used to express ideas and thoughts through design. Here, Scamper is used on a cross design that expresses Christian ideas. Pupils would select from the ideas generated.



Who else? What Else?

Replace Jesus’ body with a collage of different people to represent the Christian belief that he died for all.

Combine ideas

Overprint a flower so that the leaves, stalk and flowerhead form a cross of their own. Different ideas could be suggested by different flowers.

Other ideas it suggests

A ship’s mast (the journey of life). A sword (the battle between good and evil. Adapt design accordingly.

Magnify, modify, reduce.
Change colour, shape etc

Use rainbow colours for hope. Shrink to suggest vunerability. Enlarge to suggest the greatness of love.

Put to other uses
Modify use, new uses


Badge. Logo for an organisation.

Remove part or whole


Get rid of the cross and leave the cross shaped hole to suggest resurrection.

Pattern, angle, layout etc


Explode a cross to suggest bursting out of the tomb. View from above - God’s view.

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