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Critical Thinking

An explanation

Critical thinking allows us to apply knowledge and content and not just remember it. It’s like reading the IKEA assembly instructions, feeling confident you can do it and then realising you knew nothing as you fail to identify pieces and attempt to fit them together. Professions that require employees to only remember or follow step-by-step instructions are often classed as unskilled and generally pay very little, our role as educators is to guide students into skilled and satisfactory job roles. However, most skilled professions require their personnel to use varying degrees of critical thinking and more importantly so does our development as a responsible global citizen.


Why is it important?

Critical thinking is an essential skill that has to be developed and nurtured in our students. It is a common known fact that many job roles that exist today, did not exist less than 20 years ago. So if we are educating students for jobs that do not even exist yet, we need to equip them with the necessary skills and this is why critical thinking is so important. Students need to problem solve, make decisions, evaluate, reflect and analyze in the classroom so they can apply the knowledge they have learnt to new innovations and technologies of the future.

However, one of the issues we are faced with as Physical Educators is that students are not really assessed in critical thinking in their GCSE exam so teachers may be reluctant to dedicate precious learning time to developing these skills. Most GCSE PE boards mark their test questions based on whether students have included keywords in their answers (memorization and recall). So the challenge is to use critical thinking as a vehicle for learning the content and knowledge, that way students can perform the way the examination board expects as well as perform as a free thinking, self-regulating human beings of the future.

How can we intergrate it into lessons?

Here are just a few learning ideas on how we can challenge our students to use reflective, reasonable, rational thinking to gather, interpret and evaluate information in order to learn key aspects of GCSE Physical Education.

  • A take on Masterchef where students are asked to prepare a dinner for a professional athlete.
  • A debate that considers if we should allow performance enhancing drugs in sport.
  • Taking a discovery journey of a range of media resources to critically analyse the barriers certain athletes face in sport.
  • Storyboard asks them to create a story about a chosen topic and bring it alive through art, film or song.

Here are some games that wake up the learning and encourage them to think critically about how they can relay information to their peers in a variety of different ways. These include Pictionary, Taboo, Verbalise, Jeopardy, Participation Heads, Top Trumps and so many more.

Team A-PE believes in the power of critical thinking and each resource is designed to encourage and support this process.

If you have any questions about our approach or what we offer, please e-mail us on

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