Author: Sara Zanotto
Publication date: 28/07/2023
Nowadays school isn’t all about rote memory and grades anymore. In fact, it’s also about critical thinking and reasoning. As the world changes day by day, the education system has to keep up with the need for new professional figures. This is because of the birth of new generations.
What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking represents the ability to logically and freely think with our own brain. In particular, it means being able to put into practice our knowledge while reasoning in a smart and independent way. So, by thinking in a critical way individuals can examine matters from different points of view. This way, they achieve impactful conclusions and effective results.
The term “critical thinking” first appeared in the book How We Think (1910), written by the American scholar John Dewey. This educational method was then adopted by the progressive education movement. They aimed at offering a proactive alternative to traditional techniques, in order to develop logical and technical skills. Students' tasks predominantly revolved around solving problems rather than simply receiving lessons to memorize. The point of critical thinking in education is to teach students how to think and not what to think.
Skills of critical thinking
Critical thinking is made up of different skills:
By breaking up the issue into different parts, it is possible to study the logic underneath it
Form judgments and opinions
Recognize and highlight relevant sections of content, based on indirect or direct personal experience.
Ponder someone’s opinion
Ponder one’s own opinion and knowledge after learning something more about the topic
You can form an evaluation on the subject in order to suggest different solutions.
Why is critical thinking important in education?
In the last decades, the education system has radically changed. Actually, in the past, schools focused more on mechanical learning and repetition than active learning. Nowadays, the education system aims at creating an environment where students can express their thoughts and feelings.
Moreover, it is essential that students engage with different perspectives, develop self-awareness and practice active listening. All of these achieve the central aim of critical thinking: nurture one’s own ideas and enhance confidence. Additionally, teachers should encourage students to adopt a proactive "how to do it" mindset.
Critical thinking goes beyond classes and school systems. The modern economy requires a highly flexible workforce. These professional figures must be capable of examining information from different sources and finding innovative solutions. Employees who possess powerful critical thinking skills will be more likely to find employment in a rapidly evolving workplace.
How can teachers teach critical thinking to their students?
There are different techniques that teachers can adopt in their everyday classes in order to enhance students’ critical thinking:
Teachers should ask questions to their students, especially open-ended questions. This allows the students to reason and apply their theoretical knowledge. What’s more, it increases their problem-solving skills and self-confidence.
Encouraging decision-making is a big part of teaching critical thinking. In this way, students have to take into account both advantages and disadvantages of possible solutions in order to decide which idea works best.
Working in groups helps students to cooperate with their classmates. Furthermore, it demonstrates that content can be examined from different perspectives.
Imagination is a key principle of critical thinking. During classes, teachers should stimulate students’ creativity with different activities such as art projects and creative writing.
Brainstorming can represent an exercise to improve critical thinking. For example, it can be used not only as a tool for individual thinking but also to ignite discussions among peers.
In conclusion, critical thinking is a skill that should be taught in school in order to improve individual development. Critical thinking is not limited to educational background, it is also essential to prepare students to enter the world of work.