Introduction to Critical Thinking – Parent / Teacher / Facilitator

Minds in Bloom is pleased to welcome guest blogger, Swati Lahiri who has blogged about a specific method for introducing critical thinking.
Critical thinking in its most basic form is the ability to
think about how we think. How we think about the world and our place in it is
based on prior experience, understanding of a concept, personal bias, or
thinking about it from a new perspective. It is not something one does just as
a learning exercise; rather it should become the automatic practice applied to
any learning, thought or opinion.
Critical thinking has been discussed since ancient times and
is built into every academic field, profession and religion. Critical thinking
is considered higher-order thinking and is essential to success in any endeavor
we undertake. Teaching the skills of critical thinking can become an easy and
automatic tool for stretching the minds of children to consider ideas beyond
the concrete world in which they live.
Children begin life as concrete thinkers who believe the
world revolves around them and therefore they see no need to consider anything
outside of “me”. They gradually learn that there is more to the world outside
of their own sphere that includes family, friends. This circle widens more and
more as they continue to grow and experience life as elementary age children.
As preteens they will begin to think in abstract terms and learning takes on a
new aspect of knowing without seeing.
In order to facilitate and nurture learning in a child it is
crucial to begin to teach them how to think about their own thinking. Since
Socrates was credited with his ancient method of questioning learners to think
about why they came to the conclusions they did, teachers and parents have used
a variety of methods to encourage children to think beyond the immediate. In
the 1950’s educators began to itemize levels of intellectual behavior important
to higher level learning.
This became known as Bloom’s Taxonomy and has been updated
occasionally over the decades of use. The basic concept is that a child moves
from concrete learning and recall of information, to understanding what was
learned, applying that learning, analyzing the concept from various angles,
evaluating what they learned and finally to the ability to create their own
point of view.
Throughout this lesson, the focus would be on developing the
reading and comprehension skills for young learners and therefore the learner
will be taken through a variety of techniques designed to instill in their
learning the abilities listed above as critical thinking skills. The exercises
can be worked on within the structure of the lesson but should also become
incorporated more and more into the natural ability of the learner to learn.
Lessons will begin with basic recall and understanding
skills and progress through each of the levels of higher level learning. They
should be practiced extensively until they become second nature to the learner.
Diagram:
Introduction of Critical Thinking – Student / Learner
Why do you think what you think? Is it because you were
taught to accept what you were told without question? Is it because it takes
time and effort to wonder why you think what you do? Is it because it never
occurred to you to consider anything beyond what you can see, hear, taste, and
feel?
Why do you like sweets and hate vegetables? Why do you like
to play the piano rather than playing sports? Why do you like to wear play
clothes and not dress-up clothes? Why do you like to play video games, listen
to music or sleep in late on the weekends?
When you were very young you likely drove adults crazy
asking “why” all the time. This was probably especially true when it came to why
or why you were not allowed to do something. Now it’s time to practice asking
questions again, but this time – you will be asking yourself the questions. In
order to become the adult you want to be, in order to do the things you dream
of doing, you will need to begin to question all your experiences, lessons and
thoughts.
You need to ask yourself if you remember (process) what you saw, heard, and felt.
You need to ask yourself if you understand (understanding and analyze)) what you saw, heard, and
felt.
You need to ask yourself if you can apply (application) what you saw, heard, or felt to anything else
you have learned.
You need to ask yourself if what you experienced compares (comparison) to anything else
you have learned.
You need to ask yourself if you agree or disagree (evaluate and justify) with what you saw, heard,
or felt and why.
You need to ask yourself how you would create (synthesize) it in your own way.
Over time these questions will begin to reveal to you how the
world works and your place in it. You will learn what makes you special and
unique. You will learn what you want and don’t want; how you want to live and
how you don’t want to live; you will discover your true self and how to be the
best self you can be.
A few important strategies used for developing Reading
and Comprehension skills:
Topic: Knowledge
and Comprehension of Favorite School Subject
Primary Subjects: Language
ArtsReading and Writing
Literacy Standards: Students will apply
numerous learning strategies to demonstrate knowledge, comprehension, analyzing
and evaluating. They will draw on prior experience, interactions with reading
and writing, knowledge of word meaning and understanding of textual features
and story elements.
Lesson Objective Outcome:
Children will demonstrate the critical thinking skill of knowledge and
comprehension by writing a paragraph describing a favorite school subject.
These critical thinking skills are important to a child’s
overall growth as they begin to encounter choices in many areas of life,
determining life goals and beginning to envision who they will be as adults. In
this unit, the child will demonstrate an understanding of what makes a certain
school subject more interesting to them personally than another subject. They
will demonstrate the ability to identify and compare qualities of an activity
or topic of learning. As they continue to practice critical thinking they will
begin to evaluate what they will choose to focus their attention and activity
on.
 Later they will be
able to make informed decisions about whether or not they will continue to
follow a preferred line of study or change direction based on their own
personal critique of that particular learning discipline because they have
begun to think critically.
To expand on the skills learned in this set of lessons, use
some of the questioning examples and tools provided within the lesson to extend
the learning beyond this lesson.
  • Practice these same questions, used in
    the current lesson, in other settings and in a variety of situations. They
    can be about favorite foods, movies, music, or activities. Engage your
    child in casual conversations in the car, at the table or at bedtime by
    asking questions and listening to how they process their answers.
  • Model the critical thinking process as
    you talk out loud how you are analyzing and evaluating items or events in
    your own daily activities. For instance explain how you are deciding what
    to make for dinner, what to buy at the grocery store, how you determine
    right or wrong activities for your child, how you determine to spend time
    or money and how or why you believe what you believe.
  • Talk about your own experiences,
    mistakes and understandings of specific learning disciplines and future
    career paths. Draw upon your own history to illustrate the need to learn
    to think critically about careers, how to spend free time and how favorite
    school subjects can impact various future decisions. Engage your child in
    discussions about thinking through the learning opportunities your past
    experiences can offer.
These types of activities allow the learner to begin to see
how these critical thinking questions apply to everyday experiences even when
they are not aware of it. Teaching critical thinking is primarily about
learning to ask questions that challenge usual ways of thinking.
Lesson Activity:  
Step 1: Think of
your favorite subject in school. What topic do you look forward to learning
more about? What do you like to learn about or practice even when it isn’t a
school or homework assignment? You just enjoy learning more and more about this
thing. This subject can be anything that you study or do during your school
day.  For instance you could enjoy
Science, Math, Reading, Music, Computers or even P.E. class the best. Lunch is
not considered a school subject unless you are enrolled in cooking classes or
studying nutrition in your Health class. Choose one of the following options to
help you to visualize this subject:
  • Find your textbook or a worksheet from
    your favorite class
  • Find a picture in a magazine,
    newspaper or on-line to represent your favorite subject
  • Craft an image from some modeling clay
    or some craft items that remind you of your favorite subject
  • Use toys, dolls or stuffed animals
    that remind you of this subject
  • Use your own imagination to find a way
    to represent your favorite school subject
Step 2: Set your
“image” up on the table in front of you as you answer the questions below about
this favorite school subject. If you think of something important, that is not
shown here, include extra points as you take your notes.
  • What is the name of your favorite
    school subject: _______________________
  • Use describing words to tell about your
    favorite school subject. Use the examples provided below to help you think
    about why this is your favorite subject.

    • I do this inside / outside
    • I use my brain / use my body
    • I do this alone / with others
    • It is easy / hard for me to do
  • Name three ways that you use your
    favorite school subject outside of the classroom. Use the examples below
    to help you think about this:

    • At home with my family
    • At play
    • In my friendships
Use your answers to the above questions to write a paragraph
describing your favorite school subject. Write at least one sentence from each
of the questions you answered. Then use explaining sentences to describe why
you answered the way you did.
Step 3: Some of
the questions above asked you to write things you see or do with your favorite
school subject. These are things everyone can see or do by using the textbook
or working with the teacher.  Let’s try
to dig deeper into your special understanding of the unseen benefits of your
favorite school subject. This will help you to decide if you can tell what
makes it so interesting to you. If you think of something important that is not
shown here, include extra points as you take your notes.
  • Let’s look at different ways this
    topic is uniquely interesting to you. Use the examples below to help you
    think about it:

    • Learning about this subject makes me
      feel _______________ because ________________.
    • I like to learn about this subject
      even if it isn’t assigned because __________________.
    • My favorite experience with this
      subject was when _____________________.
    • I wish other people could understand
      _________________________ about this subject.
  • Let’s look at how your favorite
    subject affects other areas of your daily life. Use the examples provided
    below to help you think about why this is your favorite subject. If you
    think of something important that is not shown here, include extra points
    as you take your notes.

    • It helps me with my friendships
      because _________________________.
    • It helps me with my play time
      activities because_________________________.
    • It helps me get better at
      ________________ because _______________.
    • I think this subject will effect my
      life as a grown up by _________________.
Use the answers to the above questions to write a paragraph
or two describing your favorite school subject. Write at least one sentence
from each of the points of your description.
Critical
thinking is not synonymous with criticizing; it is all about judicious
reasoning of what to believe in and apply that reasoning in our day-to-day life
by not remaining passive.

 

About Swati Lahiri:
Swati Lahiri is a passionate educator
turned entrepreneur who has come up with an innovative form of education for
the young minds by way of her eLearning website – Globastudy
With a bachelors degree in Clinical
Psychology and a Masters degree in Curriculum Design. Swati brings 21st Century
Learning designed in her own methodology in the garb of differentiated
instruction for all kinds of learners with the sole purpose of helping them to
succeed and bring out their PERSONAL BEST

 

She Blogs at: ESSSELLLE
, and her educational products can also be found at TpT
20 Questions to Ask Students

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