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Critical and creative thinking

Critical and creative thinking is essential for students to become successful learners. 

The following information is also available as a download for printing (PDF 350KB).

This general capability has 4 main parts:

  • posing questions, gathering, organising and processing information and ideas
  • imagining possibilities, suggesting alternatives, seeking solutions and putting ideas into action
  • talking about and giving reasons for their thinking and applying knowledge in new situations
  • applying logic and reasoning, drawing conclusions and designing a course of action, and evaluating procedures and results.

During their primary and high school years, students develop critical and creative thinking as they imagine possibilities, consider alternatives, and create innovative solutions. They apply logic and reasoning to develop a course of action, and weigh up the consequences.


For example, in design and technology, year 9 and 10 students analyse social, ethical and sustainability factors that have an impact on their designed solutions, including the production processes involved.

Another example is in the learning area of humanities and social sciences, where students consider social, environmental, economic and community issues and make plans for personal or group action. For example in geography, year 7 students think critically and creatively to propose actions to create future water security.

In mathematics, students learn that there is more than one way to approach mathematical problems, and develop and use a range of different strategies for problem solving. Students pose questions, and organise and summarise data sets. They interpret their results and draw conclusions based on the evidence. For example, in year 5 students may collect and analyse data about traffic around their school which might inform the local council about the need for a school crossing.

Helping your child

You can help your child develop critical and creative thinking by:

  • encouraging them to explore, be curious, come up with questions and investigate how things work
  • asking them to think of different ways to solve problems
  • providing choices of activities that involve planning and decision making
  • asking them to describe their thinking and give reasons for it
  • showing them it is OK to make mistakes
  • sharing your mistakes and what you learnt from them
  • valuing their ideas and efforts.

Strategic Design

Phone: 8463 5941
Emaileducation.strategicdesign [at] sa.gov.au