" …the capacity to draw inferences correctly is of the highest importance in establishing the meaningfulness of those activities that children engage in both in and outside of school."
Matthew Lipman et al, ‘Philosophy in the Classroom’ (1980)
Effective Teaching of Inference Skills in the Primary YearsThe Think2Read team belief passionately that comprehension instruction and child-led discussion within facilitated role-focused groups is central to effective learning in the primary years. To comprehend is to ‘understand’ – to possess the tools to ‘understand’ means you can learn.
For too long now, the education system has overlooked the necessity for explicit teaching of key comprehension thinking and questioning skills, especially within the early years. For example, there is the generally held belief that beginner readers need only to read the words on the page, for comprehension to naturally follow. Robert Fisher (1990) points out that although children may be able to say the words as they read from the text, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily comprehend the meaning beyond a literal understanding.
Although children have innate inference skills on one level or another, like many adults, they are unable to recognise what these skills are when they are using them or how they might be able to apply these skills more effectively to enhance other areas of learning - without first being shown how to do so.
Explicit teaching and assessment of literal, inference and evaluation shows even young children how to recognise and identify what these essential mean-making and reasoning skills actually are; and how they can be applied to enhance overall learning and understanding to enable them to:
- make greater sense of incoming information;
- gather, organise and classify data efficiently and purposely;
- predict and plan confidently;
- reason, make valued judgments;
- creatively solve problems,
- learn independently and collaboratively and communicate ideas effectively.