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Are Our Schools designed to teach children to think?

Are Our Schools designed to teach children to think?

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“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action” (Scriven, 1996).

EDITOR: It is clear from this definition that students will have to be more involved in their education. Students would be required to do more than just note-taking. Students will be pulling ideas apart, formulating questions, analysing ideas and formulae. It, therefore, means that teachers will have to apply a constructivist approach to the delivery of their lessons.

Critical-thinking skills give students the ability not only to understand what they have read or been shown, but also to build upon that knowledge without incremental guidance. Critical thinking teaches students that knowledge is fluid and builds upon itself. It is not simply rote memorisation or the ability to absorb lessons unquestioningly.

Critical-thinking products and courses encourage students to think for themselves, to question hypotheses, to develop alternative hypotheses, and to test those hypotheses against known facts. None of this is to say that memorising facts is necessarily bad. It means only that when rote memorisation takes precedence over problem-solving, logic and reason, students suffer Thinking skills develop best when students are explicitly taught; instead of showing the answers, students are taught procedures. Critical thinking can only be developed in a student- centred classroom where the teacher is not the centre of attention.

Critical thinking involves questioning. It is important to teach students how to ask good questions, to think critically, in order to continue the advancement of the very fields we are teaching. Every field stays alive only to the extent that fresh questions are generated and taken seriously.

We live in an age where we have more information at our fingertips than

ever before and more opportunity to communicate with people across the globe. But how do we discern what information is correct, relevant and unbiased? How do we know when to accept what someone is saying, and when to question it?

Critical thinking has been defined as the ability to:

  • ask the right questions
  • recognise the existence of problems
  • read between the lines
  • recognise implicit and explicit assumptions
  • identify relevant and irrelevant information in arguments
  •  recognise bias in yourself and others.

Critical thinking is the foundation of strategic thinking, creative thinking, good judgement and good decision-making. Good critical thinking results in the ability to draw the right conclusion.

Research also suggested that improving critical thinking ability has a knock-on effect in improving problem-solving ability, openness, creativity, organisation, planning and making the right choices in life more often.

“It is my strong belief that if more of us as educators were practising the critical-thinking approach, we would see different results in our CSEC and CAPE examinations. We would also see better citizens, people who can reason with a voice of logic. (Lorenzo Smith Critical thinking in the Jamaica Classroom) 2019.

Lynden Punnett BA.Cert.Ed,Dip.TEFL.Dip.SpLD (Dyslexia)