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What has concerned me about the ACARA syllabuses for year 12 is the absence of critical thinking in the way they have been developed.The limitation of interdisciplinary approaches, the unwillingness to think through how often problem solving requires thinking and searching across disciplines. Problems in real life and concerns re issues in real life do not stay within the artificial boundaries of subjects as silos. For example in the year 12 English syllabus in the list of references that might be read by students, there is not one written by a scientist for general readers. There might be science fiction but the analysis of ideas from different disciplines should be a part of writing, reading and studying in English, yet there is no reference that encourages a student to explore across a range of avenues of learning that engage with the sciences that are so significant in the 21st century. Information literacy is more than just going to the Internet to find something. ICT is a tool. The thinking involved demands the capacity to sort the wheat from the chaff. By insisting on the vertical structure of subjects, rather than engaging both the linear and lateral ways of exploring an issue, these syllabuses discourage the critical thinking of which information literacy is an essential part. Therefore information literacy needs to be included in the general capabilities. It will be vital for students and teachers. Evidence of concern with the quality of thinking is in the decision at Macquarie University to require undergraduates to study and art/humanity if they are studying science and they will be required to study a science if their focus is on the humanities. If students have not been prepared beforehand to think about the cross disciplinary elements of critical thinking, they will continue to have the narrow focus that bedevilled schooling in the 20th century.
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