What is critical thinking? Although we hear those buzz words flying around in education-there are so many ideas-it is hard to know if we fully know what it really means in the context of a classroom.
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking — about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.
Below you will find a short YouTube clip that explains critical thinking in very basic terms. It boils down to 2 words: How & Why.
Edutopia (if you can’t tell, one of my favorite blogs for great information!) has a great post about News Literacy and how we can teach Critical Thinking Skills for the 21st Century:
Every teacher I’ve worked with over the last five years recalls two kinds of digital experiences with students.
The first I think of as digital native moments, when a student uses a piece of technology with almost eerie intuitiveness. As digital natives, today’s teens have grown up with these tools and have assimilated their logic. Young people just seem to understand when to click and drag or copy and paste, and how to move, merge and mix digital elements.
The second I call digital naiveté moments, when a student trusts a source of information that is obviously unreliable. Even though they know how easy it is to create and distribute information online, many young people believe — sometimes passionately — the most dubious rumors, tempting hoaxes(including convincingly staged encounters designed to look raw and unplanned) and implausible theories.
How can these coexist? How can students be so technologically savvy while also displaying their lack of basic skills for navigating the digital world?
What to Believe?
Understanding this extends beyond customary generational finger wagging. While it’s tempting to blame students themselves for failing to think critically, we should remember that the digital revolution represents one of the most radical changes in human history.
Students today face a greater challenge in evaluating information than their parents or grandparents did at their age. The cumulative amount of information that exists on the planet, from the beginning of recorded history to the present, is, by realistic estimates, doubling every two years. And even though digital natives have grown up in the information age, many of the adults and institutions in their lives are still grappling with its implications. In other words, it’s likely that the kind of credulity we see in young people reflects our own collective uncertainty about what we encounter on the digital frontier. Finally, the skills that students need to effectively sort fact from fiction are often missing from school curricula.
Explore the Power of Information
Pose an “essential question for the day” that explores the power and impact of information (e.g., “What changes would we see in the U.S. if the First Amendment protections of speech and press were repealed?”). Then use such websites as the Committee to Protect Journalists or Reporters Without Borders to examine press freedoms around the world. Track the number of journalists jailed, kidnapped or killed in 2014, and investigate the circumstances surrounding these incidents.
Display a different example of dubious information each week or month and challenge your students to research its accuracy using non-partisan fact-checking resources and advanced web searching. Give prizes or extra credit to those who get it right, or work collaboratively to seek answers as a class.
The Practice of Critical Thinking
Not only can these ideas be adapted to explore a range of relevant issues in a variety of academic subjects and grade levels, they also embody the principles of 21st century learning and are aligned with Common Core State Standards.
Another great visual to help support scaffolding of this concept in all classrooms.