Critical Thinking Exam at AS-Level Is Launched Exam in Critical Launched for Sixth Form
Russell, Ben, The Independent (London, England)
SIXTH FORMERS are to be taught the skills of the mind, with the launch of Britain's first examination in critical thinking. Students will enrol for the one-year courses in September, ready for the first AS-level exams in May.
Students working towards the exam, worth half an A-level, will learn how to pick apart arguments, dissect the reliability of sources and cut through the black arts of the spin doctors.
The course, devised by the Oxford and Cambridge exam board, focuses on arguments about the environment, politics and current affairs, rather than the classical philosophy of Plato and Aristotle.
But students will deal with the logic and ideas that have vexed great minds for centuries. They will be taught to examine the philosophical premises behind arguments on topics such as poverty and decide whether deductions are logical and cases have been made beyond reasonable doubt.
Multiple choice and essay questions will ask sixth formers to spot holes in arguments and their underlying assumptions.Students will be asked to analyse witness statements after a car crash and examine the costs and benefits of recycling. The exam is part of a reform of A-levels designed to increase the breadth of subjects. Ministers hope students will take up to five half-size AS-levels before topping up three subjects to the full A-level.
The idea of teaching children to think has become popularafter studies found that students who were taught the skills of abstract reasoning performed better in academic subjects. David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, this year moved to expand the teaching of abstract thinking skills in secondary schools. …