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Promoting Critical Thinking


We hear a lot about raising children and encouraging them to be Critical Thinkers, but what exactly does this mean?

Critical thinking is the study of clear and unclear thinking.[1] 

The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the:
 intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.'[2]

I read a great book recently which included a great quote from Theologian Ravi Zacharias
"Don't wait until children are 16-17 years old, start off young in teaching them how to think thing's through. Critical Thinking is the best gift we can give them. I don't mean thinking that criticizes but thinking that evaluates the truth."

It was this quote that got me thinking.

You see I too think its very important to raise children to be confident to ask questions, to explore reasons, to reflect and consider.
Yes life can be easier with children who comply, children who just get on with it, keep their heads down and don't question anything but how is this healthy for them and their future? 
Critical Thinking skills will help aid them to be successful in life as adults ,

Critical Thinking takes experiences and activities to another level, and its at this level where learning really begins.
We learn different points of view, we learn respect and appreciation, we learn how things can potentially be improved, essentially we learn about ourselves and others.

Lets take a look at the Critical Thinking Pyramid below:

Bloom’s Taxonomy


How can we promote Critical Thinking?

Critical Thinking is about answering questions that do not require a single correct answer. 
It's not about sitting our children down and quizzing them continuously and intensely - 
instead we can take time to encourage more in depth thinking and reasoning, throughout the day, as and when different situation's arise. 

"What was your favourite part of today's visit? Why did you enjoy that?"
"Would you have done the same as _________? Why?"
"How would you have made that?"
"How do you think she felt when that happened? Why do you think she felt that way?"

We can also demonstrate critical thinking aloud in front of our children daily:
"I would have done it this way because______________."
"I think it will be a good idea to buy this one because _________."
"I'm going to do this first so that ______________."
"I really enjoyed watching ________ I wouldn't have done _________ though I would have done_______________instead as this would have _______."
" If we were to put this in place that could help reduce _________."
"Do you think it would be better to do it this way so we can _________?"
"I think ______________. What do you think about_________?"

Describing how we think in front of our children and how we go about solving problems, is the best way for us to instill similar thinking patterns.

When reading books here are some more great examples of Critical Thinking Questions.....

Critical Thinking Reading Questions:

Re-tell _________ in your own words.
What is the main idea of ____________?
Do you know anybody like _________?
How would you have done that?
Would you have felt the same as____________? Why?
How do you feel about what happened to _____________?
Would you have behaved this way if that happened to you? Why?
Do you think that was fair? Explain.
What advice would you give? Why?
Would you read this book again? Why?
Do you know anyone who would like to read this story? Why?
How could this be made better?
Can you give me an example?
What is the solution to this problem?
What is the purpose of this story?

To conclude this post I want to leave you with a few interesting quotes:

Our children need to be taught how to think, not what to think.

Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve - Roger Lewin

Don't just teach your children to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything - George Carlin

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Amy Louise
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