The significance of teaching critical thinking to students

Imbibing critical thinking skills has become indispensable in 21st century – accrediting bodies, educational institutions, students and employers all agree that students need to develop better critical thinking skills.

In the 21st century, critical thinking is not deemed to be “nice to have” skill, it is essential. In today’s fast-paced world when we are max on information and opportunity to communicate with people across the globe, it is imperative to tell apart right information from wrong. What information is relevant and unbiased? How do we know when to accept what someone is saying, and when to question it?

However, we might get instant answers to our queries but how many of us are endowed with abilities to ask the right questions or analyze the answers we get? 

Critical thinking has been defined as the ability to:

·Read between the lines

·Ask the right question

·Recognize implicit and explicit assumptions

·Recognize the existence of problems

·Recognize bias in yourself and others

Critical thinking is the foundation of creative thinking, strategic thinking, good decision making and good judgement. If you are a critical thinker, you can draw the right conclusions more often.

Research reveals that critical thinking can be improved with training. Researchers found that improving critical thinking ability has a knock-on effect in improving openness, organization, problem-solving skills, planning and making the right choices in life.

A gap in critical thinking teaching at schools and our ability to apply this skill at university or in the world of work is apparently visible. School leavers recognize the vital role critical thinking plays in securing a job but note that they did not have enough opportunity to develop it in school.

Majority of educators do not have formal training in critical thinking, they are also clueless as to where to fit it into curriculum, consequently they are not in the best position to teach others or to evaluate the most effective teaching models.

TEACHING CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS TO TEACHERS AND STUDENTS

Here are some tips to teaching critical thinking skills and creating a critical thinking culture in your school and in your classrooms:

1 Many of us wrongly discern critical thinking and consider it as simply about being critical of ideas and proposals so the first step to creating a critical thinking culture is to introduce the concept with good definition.

2 Bring forth a culture of critical thinking in your school where questioning is not only accepted but also encouraged at all levels. Provide opportunities for deeper learning (reflection, application, guided discussion).

3 With the introduction of “Socratic Questioning” critical thinking culture can be easily propagated. Socrates recognized and laid emphasis on the importance of seeking evidence, analyzing basic concepts, closely examining reasoning and assumption and tracing out implications.

4 Introduce a model of framework of critical thinking to organize and expedite learning. For instance, the RED model of critical thinking put forward in the 1930s by two experts in the field, Goodwin Watson & Edward Glaser.

5 It is important to measure current level of critical thinking in teachers and provide a development program to those who need support. Teachers armed with noticeable critical thinking skills can teach students ways to master them.