Importance of teaching critical thinking skills in the classroom

Critical thinking has become an essential skill in today's world.Students need to learn to develop better critical thinking skills.It is almost too easy these days to go on the internet and find instant answers to questions . The result is that students are falling behind in their ability to ask the correct questions and analyze those answers.

What is Critical Thinking

This has been described as :

The ability to ask the right questions

To be able to read between the lines

Recognize that there is problems

Recognize the difference between suggested assumptions and clear details.

The ability to be able to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information

Be able to identify bias .

Good critical thinking allows a person to consistently draw the right conclusions .It is not just the ability to criticize .

Create a critical thinking culture in schools

Two of the main methods that can be used in introducing critical thinking skills in the classroom are :

Socratic Questioning

This was developed by Socrates the early Greek Philosopher and is still relevant today .It relates to the importance of looking for evidence,questioning always ,analyzing and realizing implementation . There is no value in feeding students endless facts and content to remember parrot fashion .Students should be encouraged to ask questions about a subject and learn from the answers drawing up their own conclusions . Teachers should respond to all answers with a further question.Stimulate students to ask further questions and in so doing establish connections between various topics.In this way teachers can help students to discover facts for themselves .

RED Critical thinking

This was introduced by Watson and  Glaser in the 1930’s . The acronym for RED stands for :

Recognize assumptions  - separating fact from opinion

Evaluate Arguments -Ability to analyze evidence objectively

Draw conclusions - Arrive at logical conclusions .

Advantages of critical thinking in schools

  • Improves problem solving abilities and helps in decision making by excluding guess work .
  • Increases creativity
  • By analyzing problems the right life choices can be made
  • Organizational ability improves .
  • Saves time .Critical thinking teaches how to prioritize time and resources allowing you to only analyze what is needed.
  • Critical thinking teaches students how to be their own person and not to take everything they read on the internet at face value .
  • Students who receive some training in critical thinking will adapt quickly to a university environment where such a skill is needed.

Young people need to know how to think not what to think .In schools in Singapore ,which are rated among the best in the world, at reading,maths and science ,students are taught critical thinking skills .

Finally a quote from  College and Career Readiness Survey 2015 “ California teachers say critical thinking skills,not scores on standardized tests,are the best way to assess whether students are prepared for success in college and the workplace

Isn’t it perhaps time that more attention was paid to this philosophy by all schools today ?