How to develop critical thinking of students?

Discover the importance of critical thinking in education and how to work on this competence.

Having well-developed critical thinking is crucial to future personal, professional, and political choices, as well as the analytical power of the world around us. In this sense, critical thinkers can draw sound conclusions from a set of information and separate what is useful from what is not useful when making decisions.

What is the importance of developing critical thinking?

According to Stamford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the adoption of critical thinking as an educational objective was “recommended based on respect for the autonomy of students and their preparation for success in life and democratic citizenship.”

Furthermore, “educational intervention has been shown experimentally to improve critical thinking skills, especially when it includes dialogue, anchored instruction, and orientation.”

Let’s look at some skills to be explored through critical thinking:

  • Understand the logical connections between ideas;
  • Identify, construct and evaluate arguments;
  • Detect common inconsistencies in reasoning;
  • Solve problems systematically;
  • Identify the relevance of the ideas;
  • Reflect on the justification of their own beliefs and values.

It is worth remembering that critical thinking is not a matter of accumulating information. A person with a good memory and who knows many facts is not necessarily good at critical thinking. A critical thinker can deduce consequences and knows how to use data to solve problems and search for relevant sources of information.

How to promote critical thinking in students?

  1. Start with basic questions

Given the central theme, the starting point is to engage students by encouraging them to reflect on basic questions. Especially open-ended questions, which do not require a quick answer, offer them the opportunity to apply what they have learned and develop prior knowledge.

  1. Allow time for reflection.

Don’t be in a hurry to reap results. Give students time to brainstorm or reflect on their thoughts before sharing them with their group or the entire class. Also encourage them to write down the evidence or ideas gathered, so they don’t get lost.

This can be done with notes in notebooks or even through digital resources such as tablets, smartphones or PCs.

Even digital devices can be a great support tool when students present their ideas, with reminders, sketches, and images.

  1. Encourage decision making

Since most classroom discussions revolve around the application of knowledge and the search for solutions, teachers must constantly encourage decision making and evaluation of conclusions / results.

This allows students to apply what they have learned to different situations, weigh the pros and cons of a variety of possibilities, and decide which ideas work best.

  1. Promote group activities.

Group work and discussions are another great way for teachers to develop critical thinking skills. This is because cooperative learning stimulates dialogue and socio-emotional skills, as it exposes students to the different reasoning processes of their classmates, while expanding their thinking and worldview.

  1. Connect different ideas

Connecting different ideas is the key to critical thinking. For example, you can work on a prospect topic.

Let’s say a group of elementary students is working on urban mobility. The teacher may ask if the class knows someone who takes a long trip to work and depends on the bus. However, transportation takes time and the person needs to leave the house very early. Once this is done, it is possible to discuss different modes of transport, taking into account the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of each medium.

In this way, different ideas are intertwined and students realize that any solution has a series of variables and consequences.

Furthermore, they are encouraged to understand that prior knowledge can be applied to new contexts.

As you can see, the development of critical thinking is directly related to socioemotional skills and managing emotions. Because it is not a purely technical job, each student brings a particular bag of experiences, skills and insecurities, which influence their behavior, the way they see the world and other people, to the point of compromising their communication skills. positive or negative

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