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Effective teaching for substantive change within society requires a focus not so much on how knowledge has
been created but more on the purposes and uses of knowledge within a society. Students must be encouraged “to
take critical stances to give them power to take social action to improve their own lives and that of others [1,p.3].”
When working with gifted students the characteristics of concentration, ﬂ exibility, speed of thought and self
regulation can be used not only to identify the gifted [2.p.20] but are also traits that when cultivated more deeply
can create giftedness in students where it was not previously identiﬁ ed, enhance giftedness in students where it
has been identiﬁ ed and maintain gifted performance throughout a student’s academic and working career. A shift
in teachers’ classroom schemata and perspective from the focus on transmission of content to the implementation
of developmental, nurturing and social reform perspectives are required in order for these goals to be achieved.
Our paper will report on best practices for assisting teachers to adapt their classroom schemata, using critical
thinking activities with product and process approaches to establish its relevance in writing arguments, and a
contemplative pedagogical approach to teaching mathematics to enhance concentration and speed of thought.
Each teacher has a “map of classroom reality” referred to as their classroom schemata by Littlewood [3.p.1].
These conceptions held by teachers are intimately tied to the culture in which they have grown up in and live in.
Likewise, a teacher’s previous experience as a student in school provides them with assumptions on how people
learn and what their conception of the role of student and teacher is. Students also have their own schemata of
classroom reality and while the conceptions held by different people in the classroom are not all the same, as long
as there is enough similarity a convergence of the schemata can take place.
When implementing teacher development and educational change to increase student success, individuals
are exposed to new ideas and experiences which are intended to lead to an adaptation of their existing view of
classroom reality. The teacher’s mental map of classroom reality is inﬂ uenced by their personal values, cultural
and educational background, teacher education courses, in-service professional development and their encounters
with new ideas. The ongoing stimuli of daily experiences, reﬂ ection and sharing of ides result in continual small
changes on the schemata that compose a teacher’s mental map. Some experiences have a sufﬁ cient impact and
strength on creating a radical alteration of some aspect of this map. This is the desired inﬂ uence of professional
development activities, however “a key factor in this process is that teachers should themselves feel engaged with
the ideas rather than having these simply imposed from outside. The mechanism that drives innovation forward is
the process of communication and negotiation between the principal actors in the teaching-learning relationship
content to building understanding of meaning and from completely teacher directed interactions towards learner
independence. Through implementing a balanced range of activities teachers can build a pathway to innovation
that gradually allows them to increase the amount of learner independence without suddenly relinquishing control
over their class. This task-based learning implemented by Morris et al [4,p.9] in Hong Kong schools resulted
in incremental change in teacher practices towards the two dimensions of student understanding of meaning and
Based on the survey, critical thinking can be a most signiﬁ cant existing pedagogical concept, which facilities
teaching and learning in Europe and in Kazakhstan. In other words, recent trends in the educational sphere stress
the signiﬁ cance of critical thinking skills necessary for academic success and for life. I have chosen to look at
critical thinking in academic writing for junior learner. Learners are encouraged to question the validity of views
in texts or judge the views of other people. In addition they are to ﬁ lter knowledge of all kinds through their
reasoning and determine logical ﬂ aws instead of accepting them as they are. I assume that the sub-skills of critical
thinking in academic writing among junior level learners are confused, which is not to say they are not practiced.
As a former student I always had difﬁ culty in constructing effective arguments as a critical subskill in writing
essay tasks. My role as a teacher is thus to facilitate necessary critical skills when a learner writes an academic
piece of writing. This is why I have chosen to focus on teaching critical thinking in academic writing and to raise
students’ awareness thereof.
I have chosen to focus on argument as a critical subskill because I have experienced that junior level learners
often fail to organize written argument. This might be due to the fact that this subskill is usually deﬁ ned as a
statement of one’s claim which is supported by his/ her evidence along with the reasons [6, p. 142]. This can lead
to what Hillocks [7, p.15] describes that although adolescents may intend to write an argument, they often see no
need to present evidence or show why it is relevant; they merely express (usually vague) opinions.
Within junior level I have limited my focus to teaching critical thinking in academic writing of an essay.
In this type of academic writing a teacher can teach and observe every pupil’s higher order thinking level and
implement necessary fostering activities. These sophisticated forms of thinking enable a learner to express a set of
reasons to support a conclusion and to make others believe that something is true.
Researchers of the 20th century at different domains could realize that basic questions of Socrates would become
baseline in critical thinking. In 1906, William Graham Sumner, an American academic in sociology published
his book “Folkways” where he mentioned symbiotic relationship between critical thinking and education. Later in
1933 an American philosopher John Dewey attempted to describe critical thinking from philosophical perspective
whereby education was intended as a tool for providing conditions to foster thinking habits [8, 193]. Hence, critical
thinking is well - established vital skill which can occur in various ﬁ elds of science.
Furthermore, from that period critical thinking process could be regarded as higher level thinking skill which
has several subskills and one of them is argument. In writing process, especially in academic writing, argument
is a necessary skill, as a learner has to convey a deﬁ nite view or position with the intention of persuading a
possible audience in an assignment. Likewise Bloom’s Taxonomy is an assistant critical thinking tool and can be
utilized in writing. According to Bloom’s Taxonomy the last three educational objectives in the linear continuum
– Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation can be related to higher-order thinking skills. Also all six categories of
Bloom’s Taxonomy are an excellent guideline in successful academic writing [6.p.19]. Thus, critical thinking
is referred to higher – order thinking skill and Bloom’s Taxonomy is considered as its schematic continuation
whereas it can be used as a reliable guide in writing.
In addition the subskill of critical thinking argument is used in two ways. These ways are accurately illustrated
by Cottrell with different activities [5,p.38]. Argument is not similar to disagreement. A person cannot approve
of someone’s position without clearly indicating why he does not agree or persuade his reader or listener to think
differently. There is a difference between a position, an agreement, a disagreement, and an argument in critical
thinking. All these terms deﬁ ned by Cottrell in this way:
‘Position can be deﬁ ned as a point of view.
Agreement can refer to concurrence with someone’s opinion.
Disagreement can be deﬁ ned as a different point of view from someone else.
Argument can be used to refer to a point of view which has reasons to persuade or to support known or
unknown audiences. It may also comprise disagreement if it is based on reasons’ [5,p.52]. Contributing argument
can be deﬁ ned as reasons of an individual person. The overall argument introduces author’s position and can be
used to refer to a set of reasons, or contributing arguments which are organized to support it. Thus, an argument as
a part of critical thinking comprises:
‘A position or point of view;
An attempt to persuade others to accept that point of view;
Reasons given to support the point of view’ [5 p. 40];
There are some key terms and phases in creating good argument. As a rule, main aim of authors is to convince
a reader or a listener to believe in what they are telling. Nevertheless, in some cases, authors can purposely or
unintentionally explain information differently as they strive to compass own political religious or ideological
outlook, however, that does not make any argument invalid. Such statement is called a proposition and it may
occur true or false. The last component in argument is conclusion where the authors’ main positions are reiterated
[9, p.25]. Moreover it is important to keep in mind that whether an argument can be logical or follow closely
mathematical construction of the syllogism in academic writing. Syllogism can be deﬁ ned as a form of reasoning
in which two propositions or premises are expressed and a logical conclusion is caused by them . Hence, it is
also necessary to be familiar with stages and key words for successful argument.
In addition features of argument will depend on explicit and implicit arguments. If a text contains arguments we
are to differentiate implicit and explicit ones [11,p. 3]. If we look at implicit ones the argument may be hidden in
the text. Explicit arguments’ nature contraries to implicit where the argument is presented in a relatively open way.
There are six items which will lead a learner to identify a critical argument they are position, reasons/propositions,
line of reasoning, conclusion, persuasion and signal word and phrases and six clues (start of passage, the end of a
passage, interpretive summary, signal words, challenges and recommendations and words indicating a deduction)
to ﬁ nding the conclusion [5,p.47.]
There are three main approaches to the practice of writing skills both in and outside the classroom, they are
process, product and genre approaches. Many educators identify process approach as the process wheel . As White
and Arndt point out that ‘…..writing is re-writing…re-vision-seeing with new eyes- has a central role to play in
the act of creating text’ [12.p. 326].The process approach helps a learner to analyze each stage step by step in
academic writing and also process itself fosters learners’ thoughts. Moreover, it can be tended to time consuming
approach. It can be presented with communicative-task based method.
Another approach to teaching writing is the so called genre approach. The genre approach can be regarded as
social approach because ‘genre analysis attempts to show how the structure of particular text-types are shaped by
the purposes they serve in speciﬁ c social and cultural context’[13,p. 2]. Therefore, a text is analyzed in functional
and in linguistic aspects where a learner has to differentiate in style, language and layout.
The last approach in teaching writing is product (or model text) approach. Its focus on producing a text that
reproduces the model [13p. 249], particularly this paper’s basic strategies of teaching argument in academic writing
will be carried out by product approach. There are four stages which facilitate a learner to be more competent
in certain aspects of a particular context. Additionally, a teacher can combine product and process approaches
to teach structure in order to familiarize with contributing arguments and the overall argument or with the rest
components of critical argument in writing which help a learner to write a good argument. As for critical argument
learners would probably be given a gap ﬁ ll text where they would be asked to create the overall argument. And in
the end, every learner can produce his own product by imitating the sample text. Thus, process approach helps a
learner to revise or to introduce with any model texts and facilitate a learner’s motivation in writing.
This involves little visual pressure; learners do not prematurely ask to explain and presenting time allows
them to keep in mind initial distinctive features of two arguments. For the teacher, this is convenient to present the
layout and ways of structuring information. For learners, main beneﬁ ts lie in a great challenge for precision and
clariﬁ cation of the nature of critical argument, providing clear margins for further identiﬁ cation.
Secondly, designed to practice identifying simple arguments. Carefully formulated set of passages for
recognizing which are arguments, and which are not. These passages can be reordered if they help to ﬁ nd real
Personally, I question the relevance of both materials for learners, nevertheless I can combine product with
element of process approach.
In this stage learners will be given some time to isolate key information in a passage and then they write down
in their own words the overall argument through identifying propositions and conclusion. In all, if learners are
aware the fact that they will produce, I believe, they will be more attentive through the lesson stages. This also
increases a learner’s autonomy and by the end, be able to write similar tasks better at home. For the teacher, this is
a time when teacher can vary interactive patterns which has positive impact on learners’ motivation.
Feedback will have to take place in the form of monitoring, at present, it is the only way and however, I am
interested in this experiment and hope to conduct such experiments in my future classes.
Contemplative pedagogy involves teaching methods designed to cultivate deepened awareness, concentration,
and insight. Contemplation fosters additional ways of knowing that complement the rational methods of traditional
liberal arts education. As Tobin Hart states, “Inviting the contemplative simply includes the natural human
capacity for knowing through silence, looking inward, pondering deeply, beholding, witnessing the contents of
our consciousness…. These approaches cultivate an inner technology of knowing….” This cultivation is the aim
of contemplative pedagogy, teaching that includes methods “designed to quiet and shift the habitual chatter of the
mind to cultivate a capacity for deepened awareness, concentration, and insight.”
Modern math methods have just one way of doing an operation, say division and this is so cumbersome
and tedious that students are now encouraged to use a calculator. The Vedic system, on the other hand, has
many methods for the same operation to choose from. This element of choice in the Vedic System, and even of
innovation, together with the mental approach, brings a new dimension to the study and practice of mathematics.
The variety and simplicity of the methods brings fun and amusement, the mental practice leads to a more reﬂ ective,
alert, and intelligent mind leading to greater innovation and concentration.
It may seem strange to some people that mathematics could be based on sixteen word-formulas; but mathematics,
more patently than other systems of thought is constructed by internal laws, natural principles inherent in our
consciousness and by whose action more complex ediﬁ ces are constructed. From the very beginning of life there
must be some structure in consciousness enabling the young child to organize its perceptions, learn and evolve. If
these principles could be formulated and used they would give us the easiest and most efﬁ cient system possible for
all our mental enquiries. This contemplative approach to teaching math has been shared in three hour workshops
with over three hundred school math teachers in the United States including Arizona state, Chicago City College
system and Nebraska state. Comments from teachers on follow-up surveys endorse the system as an effective
means to increase the concentration ability of students, not just in math but in all academic areas. This research
conﬁ rms that this contemplative form of inquiry can offset the constant distractions of the modern multi-tasking,
Gifted students require focused and challenging curriculum along with encouragement to be able to fully develop
and express their talents. Teachers are a key part to the provision of opportunities for an enriched educational
experience. Through organic professional development, use of critical thinking activities and contemplative
pedagogy the characteristics of concentration, speed of thought, ﬂ exibility and self regulation of gifted students
can be leveraged to create greater lifelong expressions of their talents.