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Educate~  2006 

Should we teach thinking skills to deaf children?

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This pilot study aimed to identify the benefits of developing thinking skills with KS1 deaf children who used British Sign Language (BSL). It arose as a response to the findings of a variety of researches who had reported a number of ‘failings’ apparent in the educational and learning activity of deaf children. It used a case study approach involving five profoundly deaf Key stage 1 children and explored the extent to which, using materials grounded in the Somerset Thinking Skills Course, the teaching of thinking skills in a supportive environment could remediate some of these issues. The strongly visual nature of the material supported pupil exchanges mediated by the use of sign language. Analysis of video film was used to plot individual pupil development of scanning skills, their use of nouns versus adjectives, micro-skills and macro-abilities. Pupil reasoning skills, how they were supported, their ownership and role of the facilitator were also examined. The results showed that within eight weeks (equivalent to four hours in total) the children were more able to express their perceptions. They watched other children in order to access their signed information and appeared to use this to develop, elaborate, extend and provide reasons when it was their turn to present. There was also evidence of enhanced creativity and originality in their contributions. This pilot study urges the need for further research and suggests that a priority should be given to developing this approach in the teaching of deaf children. Due to the complexity of thinking skills it further recommends that this area should be taught as a separate topic that can inform other subjects.


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