Does CAPS require teachers to teach thinking?

Yes, the strong cognitive focus of the CAPS objectives requires that teachers have knowledge and skills regarding the teaching of thinking.

Thinking, which comprises the application of skills, strategies and dispositions, is a key component of all learning and teaching. Although the National Department of Education has placed a strong cognitive focus on teaching and learning since 1997 with the formulation of critical and developmental outcomes that have to be achieved at all levels of education, these outcomes appear not to have become reality in South African classrooms yet (Lombard & Grosser, 2008:573).  The new National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) Grades R-12 continues to support a cognitive focus during teaching and learning as evidenced in the underlined sections of the objectives of the CAPS.  Learners should be able to:

  • Identify and solve problems and make decisions using critical and creative thinking;
  • Work effectively as individuals and with others as members of a team;
  • Organize and manage themselves and their activities responsibly and effectively;
  • Collect, analyze, organize and critically evaluate information;
  • Communicate effectively using visual, symbolic and/or language skills in various modes;
  • Use science and technology effectively and critically showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others; and
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognizing that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation (Department of Basic Education, 2011:4, 5).

Bearing the aforementioned in mind, teachers should be equipped with knowledge and skills to implement and advance a cognitive approach to teaching and learning across the curriculum. Anderson (2010:14) argues that a cognitive approach to teaching involves three dimensions. The first dimension involves teaching FOR thinking. Teaching FOR thinking involves the creation of school-wide and classroom conditions that support thinking development. The second dimension refers to the teaching OF thinking. The teaching OF thinking refers to the explicit teaching and modeling of cognitive and meta-cognitive thinking skills, strategies and Habits of Mind/.dispositions to learners. The last dimension, teaching ABOUT thinking, involves teachers that help learners to become aware of their own and others’ thinking processes (meta-cognitive processes) (Anderson, 2010:14).

Anderson, J.  2010.  Succeeding with Habits of Mind:  Developing infusing and sustaining the Habits of Mind for a more thoughtful classroom.  Australia:  Hawker Brownlow Education.

Lombard, K. & Grosser, M.  2008.  Are the ideals of OBE failing us, or are we failing the ideals of OBE?  South African Journal of Education, 28:561-579.

South Africa.  Department of Basic Education.  (2011).  National Curriculum Statement (NCS).  Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).  English First Additional Language.  Foundation Phase.  Grades 1-3.  Pretoria: Department of Basic Education


Do I need training to be able to teach thinking?

Yes, it is important to get acquainted with learning theories that underpin the teaching of thinking, theories of child development, as well as acquire knowledge and skills of a variety of approaches/strategies to teach thinking. It is also necessary to learn how to adapt the various approaches/strategies to teach thinking for your own specific school context and learner needs.

For this purpose, attending conferences, workshops, seminars and enrolling for short courses in cognitive development will be beneficial. The Cognitive Education Research Group at North-West University, Vanderbijl park, in association with IACESA, offers training and support for schools and teachers who want to transform their classroom practices.

See Calendar and Resources .


What resources are available to teach thinking?

IACESA offers regular Cog Ed Seminars and bi-annual conferences and is in the process of developing various resources that will include articles, book reviews, book lists, classroom resources, research, stories written by cognitive education practitioners, etc.  The Cognitive Education Research Group at North-West University, Vanderbijl park, in association with IACESA, will be play a vital role in South Africa in the future to promote research in the field of cognitive education, to do develop materials that will assist teachers to infuse cognitive education into the curriculum and to provide teacher training and development.