The Programme for Critical and Creative Thinking in Education
Coordinator: Dr. Joseph Giordmaina
Department of Education Studies
Faculty of Education
University of Malta
The University of Malta: Some Background Information.
The University of Malta traces its origins to the founding of the Collegium Melitense in 1592. This college was run by the Jesuits and catered for non-Jesuit students. In 1578, Pope Gregory XIII empowered the Jesuits to confer the degrees of Magister Philosphiae and Doctor Divinitas. However, other subjects such as Grammar and the Humanities were also taught.
Following the abatement of the plague of 1675, Grand Master Nicol・Cotoner appointed Fra Dr. Giuseppe Zammit as "lettore" in Anatomy and Surgery at the Sacra Infermeria on the 19th October 1676. Zammit went on to establish the first medical library on the island as well as a medicinal herbal garden in one of the ditches of Fort Saint Elmo. After the expulsion of the Jesuit Order from Malta in 1768, Grand Master Pinto appropriated all the revenue accruing from its property on the island and established a "Pubblica Universit・di Studi Generali". The decree constituting the University was signed by Pinto on the 22nd November 1769. Two years later, a Collegio Medici was set up as one of the faculties making up the University. It appears that the Medical Faculty was the only one staffed solely by local lecturers, a tradition which has been maintained through the centuries.
During the brief French interregnum of 1798, Napoleon abolished the University. Fortunately, shortly after the French were forced to leave, Sir Alexander Ball re-instituted the University. During the British period the University's statutes and regulations were brought into line with universities in the United Kingdom. The present coat of arms and the motto "Ut Fructificemus Deo" were proposed in 1923 by the rector, Professor Sir Themistocles Zammit. Following the Second World War, the Library and support structures were strengthened. In 1968 a new Medical School was built near St Luke's Hospital in Guardamangia and, at the same time, the new campus at Msida was inaugurated.
The University is the highest teaching institution of the State and is open to all those who have the requisite qualifications. There are some 9000 students including 700 foreign students, following full or part-time degree and diploma courses, many of them run on the modular or credit system. In 2004, over 2000 students graduated in various disciplines. The degree courses at the University are designed to produce highly qualified professionals, with experience of research, who will play key roles in industry, commerce and public affairs in general.
Associated with the University is the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies while the campus is also home to the IMO International Maritime Law Institute and the International Ocean Institute Malta Operational Centre. The University of the Third Age was inaugurated in 1993 enjoys a large membership.
There are a number of fields which the University has identified as priority areas: relations with industry and the strengthening of the Engineering departments; the further development of information technology, computer science and artificial intelligence; the University's contribution to the improvement of primary and secondary education and the forging of inter-university links to stimulate a burgeoning of international educational exchange.
The University of Malta is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Utrecht Network, the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), the European Access Network (EAN), the European University Association (EUA), as well as the Santander Network and the Compostela Group. Through its European Unit, University of Malta students participate in programmes such as Erasmus, Leonardo and Comenius. For more information regarding the university please see the following website: http://www.um.edu.mt/
The Faculty of Education
The Faculty of Education is committed to promoting successful learning and fulfilling human development in all its forms and across all life stages. In pursuing such a goal, the Faculty will draw on a broad range of theories, practices and technologies in order to create flexible and enabling learning environments, and will reach out to diverse communities, locally and internationally, in order to contribute to training, research, policy and community development. The Faculty has identified a number of strategic goals that this plan sets out to achieve. The goals are as follows:
1. Reviewing and Implementing National Policy Documents. To review and implement national policies in education, psychology and youth and community studies.
2. Assuring Quality. To continuously review the Faculty´s graduate and post-graduate studies in education, psychology and youth and community studies.
3. Providing Outreach. To run extra mural programmes that respond to local community needs.
4. Producing, Facilitating and Disseminating Research. To produce and disseminate research that contributes directly to policy making and to local and international debates on education and human development. The Faculty will also facilitate site-based action research.
5. Internationalizing the Faculty. To transform the Faculty into an international site of research and learning.
6. Promoting different modes of open and distance learning. To provide flexible learning environments by blending technology-based instruction with traditional forms of learning.
7. Promoting a better working environment. To provide a sustainable, physical, social and emotional working space for academic and non-academic staff.
8. Promoting a better information strategy. To provide students, academic and non-academic staff, and the local and international communities with sufficient and easy to access information re the Faculty´s activities, academic programmes and research endeavours.
9. Promoting a more efficient and democratic administration. To provide an administrative structure that is ethical, transparent, democratic and enabling in nature.
10. Promoting a student-friendly environment. To address the targets set by the student charter and to create a positive teaching-learning environment.
11. Generating Funds. To explore possibilities and exploit opportunities that generate funds for the Faculty.
12. Reviewing the strategic plan of individual departments. To update departments´ vision, objectives and plan of action through an ongoing review process.
The Programme for Critical and Creative Thinking in Education
The main aims of the programme are:
- To improve children’s thinking abilities, focusing on critical and creative thinking
- To create an awareness of the need for a more reflective and critical education
- To develop curricular material for the Primary, Secondary and Post-Secondary sectors
- To train teachers (in private and public schools and at University) in the teaching of thinking
- To provide support to teachers already involved in the teaching of thinking
- To adapt curricular material available on the international scene
- To develop a Resource Centre which would provide books and materials on the teaching of thinking
- To organise seminars, meetings and conferences for teachers and other interested persons to meet and discuss classroom practices
- To support research on ways, means and effectiveness of teaching both Critical and Creative thinking
- To work in collaboration with other groups whose main interests are Critical and Creative Thinking
- To act as a meeting point for different Faculties, Departments, Institutes etc. within the university, and other bodies outside the University, interested in the teaching of thinking
- To offer a European/Mediterranean meeting point for people working in this area through the organisation of International Conferences, seminars and workshops and through publication of working papers and newsletters.