Pedagogy with a Twist

Inspiring critical and creative thinking in lower ability students: A paradox!
Lucy Dalleywater

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”  Rachel Carson


Thanks to social media, Siri and ‘screens’, students want information instantaneously, yet fail to think critically about its quality or integrity, resulting in a lack of creativity in their problem-solving. As teachers, it is our role to shape students into responsible and productive citizens with quality minds, training them to think critically and creatively in preparation for a global and entrepreneurial world. However, in teaching lower-ability students, we tend to fall back on spoon-feeding them for fear they may write nothing, often wearing ourselves out in attempt to do everything for them. As Buzzelli and Johnston note, “Teachers can struggle with… authenticity, particularly when it comes to modelling risk taking” (2002, in Ritchhart, 2015). But what if we took a chance and asked them to think about it? What if we created thinkers?

This session will address how to re-assess our teaching of lower ability students, boys in particular, through setting engaging and relevant goals, relationship building and scaffolding thinking and learning. Delegates in this session will receive a handful of take-away tasks that can be directly applied to the classroom.


Ritchhart, R. (2015). Creating cultures of thinking: The 8 forces we must master to truly transform our schools.
NY., John Wiley & Sons.

Harvard Graduate School of Education, (2016). PZ Thinking Routines. Retrieved from


Lucy is an English/Business Studies teacher who has taught at The King’s School for eleven years, more recently focusing on lower ability students in English and modified courses. She has a BEd(Hon) and BA(University of Sydney) and is currently undertaking a M(Ed. Leadership). Prior to her teaching career, Lucy worked in film distribution and marketing, which has equipped her with an understanding of, amongst other things, the way the media manipulates its audiences and the importance of being a moral and critical consumer of media.