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Developing critical thinking

The development and use of critical thinking is fundamental to the way knowledge, skills, and understanding are built in health, physical education, and home economics. New knowledge and understanding that is created in one classroom may differ from that created in another.

The key competency of thinking is “about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas” (The New Zealand Curriculum). 

By applying critical thinking, students in senior health, physical education, and home economics deconstruct information and construct knowledge and understandings.

They present and justify knowledge and understandings using a framework derived from the four underlying concepts:

  • hauora
  • attitudes and values
  • the socio-ecological perspective
  • health promotion.

The underlying concepts become lenses through which students explore individual contexts. The emphasis on each concept will vary depending on the curriculum level and the particular context.

A pedagogy for health, physical education and home economics

… "the critical pedagogy inherent within the NZC provides a means through which physical education can contribute to sustaining sport as the humanistic goal of a moral practice and is seen as an appropriate vehicle for learning in, through and about movement".

(Gillespie and McBain, 2011, page 66)

(Gillespie, L., and McBain, S. (2011). “A Critical Analysis Process – Bridging the Theory to Practice Gap in Senior Secondary School Physical Education”. Teachers and Curriculum, 12, pp. 65–72.)

Teachers of health, physical education, and home economics can apply:

  • a sociocultural perspective
    The movement from developmental to sociocultural theories of learning, based on an understanding of how learners’ development is defined by their sociocultural experiences.
  • a sociocritical perspective
    One that is inquiry based and reflective in nature, encouraging critical thinking and challenging existing practice and assumptions.
  • transmission pedagogy
    In a transmission pedagogy, the teacher has most of the knowledge and transmits it to the students. Such pedagogies are culturally unresponsive and have very limited usefulness. For more responsive pedagogical methods, see creating a supportive learning environment.
  • critical pedagogy (education for social change).

Henry Giroux (2010, page 1) describes critical pedagogy as an "educational movement, guided by passion and principle, to help students develop consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, and connect knowledge to power and the ability to take constructive action”.

(Giroux, H. (2010). " Lessons From Paulo Freire" (PDF 94KB). Chronicle of Higher Education, 57(9), pp. 1–6.

Last updated October 3, 2013



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