Fostering Critical Thinking across the Primary School’s Curriculum in the European Schools System

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To develop citizens’ critical thinking (CT) abilities, schools must better integrate CT into the curricula. Although educators, psychologists, and philosophers agree on the importance of critical thinking, there is no agreement on a common theoretical definition. The goal of this study is to define the framework for the promotion of critical thinking in the context of curriculum devel-opment. Specifically, to explore how the primary school curriculum addresses the concept of CT, and to identify characteristics, core skills, and approaches to CT in the syllabi. We conducted a document analysis of curriculum and syllabi in the European Schools system. The results show that although the primary school curriculum does not define the concept of CT, it does consider it a key skill to develop and foster among pupils across the school syllabi. Concerning the CT teaching approaches, our study detected a holistic approach in which the European Schools system supports CT as an explicit and implicit goal within a standard subject-matter content instruction. This study can be used in future educational research with different stakeholders (teachers, school principals, policymakers, researchers) involved in curriculum development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number505
Number of pages19
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2021


  • critical thinking
  • primary education
  • school curriculum
  • European Schools


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