Editors Note: A contribution from an educator on the development of critical thinking as the primary goal of the educational process. As preppers we must always be learning and teaching those who will one day hold positions of responsibility. Positions that will impact our lives and the lives of those we care about most. While this article is directed at those perhaps still “learning how to learn”, its has a powerful message for us all.
Critical thinking is an opportunity to assess the way you form thoughts and offer evidence for your ideas instead of blindly believing that your position, regardless of the topic, is the only correct one. The advantages of mastering this skill include the improved control of your learning process as well as empathy for other opinions.
It’s self-directed and self-monitored thinking. Teachers assign tasks aimed to develop critical thinking to entail effective communication and problem-solution skills. Such assignments also help to reduce egocentrism & sociocentrism.
The development of critical thinking in school leads to obtaining such skills as:
- Decision making
Critical thinking is a valuable skill for any career, and so it is important to discuss how it develops during the educational process. First, let’s define “critical thinking.”
What Is Critical Thinking and How to Develop It?
So, what is the goal of critical thinking? The primary objective is to become an argument ninja, meaning being able to defend a personal position using credible evidence and logical reasoning at any time. Other purposes include:
- Ability to think independently for yourself
- Improve the quality of judgment and beliefs
Those are two major critical thinking goals. The first one stands for the ability to think for yourself no matter what people around you are telling. It’s about having a personal point of view regarding any situation. The freedom of thought is one of the most valuable assets that every human has. Often, the way we make decisions depends on the goals we plan to achieve, so that is why every individual should understand how to achieve various purposes and by which means.
Also, we don’t want others to use our words as their own. It is the sense of intellectual property. We want to claim authorship and ownership of our beliefs. People who lack critical thinking tend to mindlessly parrot what they have heard on TV, radio, from the government, etc. That is why so many people act like the herd, and we can obviously see it in the literature’s best creations like George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” In other words, the ability to think critically prevents us from being mental zombies.
As for the second goal: people are driven by their beliefs when making judgments, and the result is making the right choice. Through developing critical thinking skills, one will make better decisions even in the most complicated situations.
Methods to Develop Critical Thinking Abilities
What are some of the effective tools to develop critical thinking? Right, those are the good old in-class and after-class assignments. Teamwork and writing tasks help to develop both time management and critical thinking skills.
The most popular ways to train this skill are:
- Analytical essays
- Argumentative and persuasive papers
- Research papers
- Case studies
- Presentations and speeches
- Book reviews and article critiques
As the student’s academic level grows, the number of such tasks goes up as well. It is not that easy to handle all the homework assignments. If you feel overwhelmed with your tasks, focus on topics that you plan to study further in your life. It is okay to seek assistance when you are feeling overwhelmed, to ask that someone “do your homework for you” if you are running out of time having too many things to do and you have made a conscious, critical decision as to where help is needed more to fill in the requirements than to mature your thinking. It makes sense that a student cannot cope with all assignments equally well, and we adults are guilty of this as well, and we often find ourselves prioritizing tasks, from what bills to pay down to what to plant to how best to prepare for the unknown.
Effective Methods to Teach Critical Thinking to Students
The primary rule of teaching and developing critical thinking in teens is always starting with a question. A student should be able to answer more than “yes” or “no” as the topic should require broad research and analysis.
Once students start to brainstorm after the tutor assigns a specific question, the process of learning critical analysis skills is activated. You should come up with the list of all possible ideas and the ways to develop them in your writing. Open discussions in class are one of the most effective strategies for improving critical thinking.
Then, it is necessary to create a foundation. The critical thinking process is directly related to the review of related information. To recall facts and topics covered in class, the best ideas are to:
- Read in-class tasks and other homework assignments
- Recall previous lessons and exercises
- Review visual content
- Involve such classes as critical thinking with data
Also, the teachers should motivate their students to solve various cases both individually and in the team. By comparing the results of both, it is possible to explain what critical thinking is, and how it stimulates rational thought and analysis.
Without critical thinking and proper time management, it is hard to imagine a successful person today. Do not underestimate the importance of your homework tasks – develop all the essential skills with their help. Be willing to take risks and state your considered opinions and expose them to the light of criticism. Understand that done constructively it builds character, validates your processes and educates!
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