In the Australian Curriculum, students develop capability in critical and creative thinking as they learn to generate and evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities, consider alternatives and solve problems. Critical and creative thinking involves students thinking broadly and deeply using skills, behaviours and dispositions such as reason, logic, resourcefulness, imagination and innovation in all learning areas at school and in their lives beyond school.
Thinking that is productive, purposeful and intentional is at the centre of effective learning. By applying a sequence of thinking skills, students develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the processes they can use whenever they encounter problems, unfamiliar information and new ideas. In addition, the progressive development of knowledge about thinking and the practice of using thinking strategies can increase students’ motivation for, and management of, their own learning. They become more confident and autonomous problem-solvers and thinkers.
Responding to the challenges of the twenty-first century – with its complex environmental, social and economic pressures – requires young people to be creative, innovative, enterprising and adaptable, with the motivation, confidence and skills to use critical and creative thinking purposefully.
This capability combines two types of thinking: critical thinking and creative thinking. Though the two are not interchangeable, they are strongly linked, bringing complementary dimensions to thinking and learning.
Critical thinking is at the core of most intellectual activity that involves students learning to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems. Examples of critical thinking skills are interpreting, analysing, evaluating, explaining, sequencing, reasoning, comparing, questioning, inferring, hypothesising, appraising, testing and generalising.
Creative thinking involves students learning to generate and apply new ideas in specific contexts, seeing existing situations in a new way, identifying alternative explanations, and seeing or making new links that generate a positive outcome. This includes combining parts to form something original, sifting and refining ideas to discover possibilities, constructing theories and objects, and acting on intuition. The products of creative endeavour can involve complex representations and images, investigations and performances, digital and computer-generated output, or occur as virtual reality.
Concept formation is the mental activity that helps us compare, contrast and classify ideas, objects, and events. Concept learning can be concrete or abstract and is closely allied with metacognition. What has been learnt can be applied to future examples. It underpins the organising elements.
Dispositions such as inquisitiveness, reasonableness, intellectual flexibility, open- and fair-mindedness, a readiness to try new ways of doing things and consider alternatives, and persistence promote and are enhanced by critical and creative thinking.
Critical and Creative Thinking This icon shows where Critical and Creative Thinking has been identified in learning area content descriptions and elaborations.