DEVELOPING CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS
Renowned psychologist, Lawrence Balter stresses on the need for children to grow up being critical in their judgments. Generating an army of like-minded individuals with a robotic sense of learning is not the goal of education. As the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous”.
If we wish to advance and discover new wondrous solutions to the plethora of problems surrounding us then we must push students to develop critical thinking from a young age.
Here is a list of ways tutors and parents may generate powerful critical thinking skills in their students which will serve them well for the rest of their lives.For more information on how we do it at Raena Learning, email us info @raenalearning.org
To break the cycle of rote learning, the first step is to ask them open-ended questions which force them to think. A history teacher could ask their student why a certain bill was passed in an assembly by understanding the viewpoints of various invested parties. An English teacher can ask students questions that involve analyzing the author's tone, language and their effects rather than just asking "understanding the text" questions.
The best way to boost critical thinking is to challenge your students with a tricky problem. They will learn to use the resources at hand to produce creative solutions. Something they can relate to would be good. Asking Math questions related to the journey your student takes to get to school or regarding school activities would be a good idea. Use of real money and a clock works well with young children while teaching money word problems or telling time respectively.
There is a convention of making students learn a fixed formula created to solve an issue. This limits their creative spirit and discourages them from using their own ideas. Asking your pupils to give further suggestions for a catalyst speeding up a chemical synthesis would be helpful. They would sift through possible catalysts and analyze their properties. Especially with younger children, playtime and learning while playing can be very productive.
These games are often called brain games because they push the player to think hard and win them. So the reward is an attractive incentive to keep them going and practicing critical thinking. There are some great options at Free Thinking Games, Smore and Exquisite Minds. Games with enticing rewards can be excellent motivation for the development of critical thinking.
If you give your pupils the answer to a question yourself every time then you make them dependent on you for all answers. They will not be able to do well in tests where a different question is asked or it is asked in an indirect way. Let them think for themselves so they may learn improvisation.
A beginner might not understand what critical thinking entails so have some superb examples ready to show them. Tell them how those critical thinkers efficiently solved real life problems and what rewards they received for their abilities.
It is important that your students know how to organize their random thoughts. This is where classification comes in. As they practice sorting their ideas into relevant groups, they will be able to assess which ones will work best for them.
Just sparking the internal creative process of their minds is not enough. Your students must know how to express themselves. Once they have sorted out their ideas in their heads teach them essential terms like accurate, ambiguous, analyze, bias, authority, interpret, rational, claim, justify, etc.
While your students learn to organize their thoughts during a brainstorm session, encourage them to discover the relationships between their ideas. They need to define ideas, compare view points, find similarities, gauge differences and understand why the best answer is correct. Perhaps there is more than one accurate answer.
Examples of respected critical thinkers are very inspiring but in order to reach your student show them how it’s done. A practical demonstration of problem identification, brainstorming, and evaluation of options, weighing pros and cons and ultimately reaching a decision is highly effective.
Involving your students in a healthy debate will give them a chance to test their critical thinking skills. They will learn to argue with their own logic and find weaknesses in those of others among other things.
The competition of your students is with their peers so it makes sense that they should carry out discussions based on critical thinking with each other. By bouncing off ideas, they will determine the advantages and disadvantages of every option and come to conclusions depending on their independent thought processes.
The author of this piece is a passionate Maths teacher at Raena Learning . Our team of professionals are determined to help students improve on their thinking skills for an overall improvement in school . At Raena Learning ,we believe that if this area is well mustered, students will no longer find it necessary to drill for exams but rather understand concepts.