Teaching Critical Thinking in Education

I just finished reading The Foundation for Critical Thinking's A Critical Thinker's Guide to Educational Fads. It discusses the fundamental concept of various educational "fads," their appropriate educational uses, and the likely misuses of each. The fads include integrated curriculum, school choice, and Socratic questioning. I found three of these fads to be particularly significant concepts that merit further investigation and consideration as a teaching strategy.

Metacognition, or thinking about what you think, is at the heart of critical thinking, which I believe is the most significant trend being discussed. Critical thinking requires us to reason, evaluate, judge, and solve problems in order to produce the best possible thinking. Speaking and listening with empathy, considering all points of view, keeping an open mind, paying closer attention to what we see, and persevering through a thought to an intelligent conclusion are all hallmarks of critical thinking. Critical thinking should be taught in schools because it could help us get through any situation in life.

In school, critical thinking was not taught to me... were you? While conducting science experiments and writing papers all require critical thinking, the majority of us are never explicitly taught how or why it is essential. In addition to mastering test taking, developing good study habits, and other skills, we must teach students this one. The majority of students struggle through and independently develop these abilities and skills. Consider how much more successful they would be if we simply provided them with the appropriate tools.

Educational Fads proposes teaching biology as biological thinking and teaching history as historical thinking. Students ought to analyze presidencies within a historical context rather than memorizing our presidents. If science were taught in this way, just imagine how many students would be interested in it. Our schools typically teach in such a fragmented manner that fundamental ideas are left out rather than being integrated into a broader perspective.

Citizens in today's globalized world need to be able to think critically in order to communicate with and collaborate with people from different backgrounds effectively. We need to learn how to communicate with people whose backgrounds and perspectives are vastly different from our own.

Creative Thought Genuine creativity is based on critical thinking, and the authors of Educational Fads assert that something is not creative just because it is different. In order to solve a problem, create something new, or act in a different way than has been done before, creativity requires thinking "outside the box." Our creative thinking will only get us so far. To truly produce unique outcomes, creative and critical thinking must be combined.

We are able to comprehend the idea of putting a man on the moon, connecting people through the internet, and inventing the silly shoes known as Crocs through imagination and creativity.