All Our Students Thinking

by Nel Noddings


This article will question some deeply held beliefs and is therefore quite provocative. Our reviewers suggest some careful thinking and planning is necessary in order to present the ideas to other staff.

The two issues Noddings raises that may cause debate are:

  • whether all subjects are equally useful in developing the kinds of thinking skills that will benefit students
  • whether departments who use pre-set unit plans for some of their teaching can make sure that the teaching is challenging for students in terms of developing their deep thinking skills.

The article is useful in reminding teachers of the need to make links between student needs and community needs beyond school, which is also a challenge presented by the New Zealand Curriculum.

The examples that Noddings uses from her own experiences, including those as a student, are helpful. One of the benefits of reading this article with other staff might be for people to share examples from their own learning of teachers and teaching moments when they experienced an opportunity to think deeply and critically about their learning.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this article:

  • Discuss examples from your own experiences of when teachers pushed you to deeper levels of thinking. What were the things they did to achieve that deeper level for you? How did the experience make a difference for you as a learner?
  • How can you develop your own teaching and work with students to improve the dimensions of their thinking capabilities? Are there some classroom practices that you currently use that need to be reconsidered and changed to achieve this?
  • How are you planning in your school or department to make use of the thinking key competency? What consideration are you giving to assessing thinking as part of students’ learning?

Further reading

Educational Leadership. February, 2008. February’s journal theme was Teaching Students to Think. All the articles in this journal will be useful.


Noddings, N. (2008, February). All our students thinking. Educational Leadership, 65(5).

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