Thinking and understanding in the primary school curriculum
This thesis addresses certain a ects of the issue of what it is to develop children's thinking and understanding with particular reference to primary education, and against the backdrop of the National Curriculum. It begins by identifying some of the professional responsibilities of teachers in this area and some of the judgments that they have to make in the course of their practice. Some of the pr blematic assumptions which underlie commonly held responses to the issues these judments raise are set out. The relationship between the development of thinking and understanding and other aspects of human life such as action and emotion are also given some preliminary discussion. The middle sections of the thesis explore and refine in a more theoretically systematic way some of the central issues previously raised by considering insights which have arisen in the context of two broad and contrasting perspectives - loosely termed "rationalist" and "existentialist" respectively. The conceptions of thinking and understanding that each of these emphasise and their broad curriculum implications are developed. It is argued that as well as suggesting certain basic dimensions to thinking - the "calculative", the "authentic" and the "poetic" (distinctions taken originally from Martin Heidegger) - the considerations raised by these views need to some extent to be interwoven if an adequate account of what it is to develop children's th nking and understanding s to be achieved In the final part of the thesis m re specific issues relating to the structuring and assessment of children s learning, and central aspects of the relationship between teacher and pupil n primary education, are explored in the light of previous analyss. Certain aspects of the National Curriculum at the primary stage of education are considered and some critical evaluation f some of its main features is offered.