History[ edit ] The earliest documentation of critical thinking are the teachings of Socrates recorded by Plato. Socrates established the fact that one cannot depend upon those in "authority" to have sound knowledge and insight. He demonstrated that persons may have power and high position and yet be deeply confused and irrational. He established the importance of asking deep questions that probe profoundly into thinking before we accept ideas as worthy of belief.
You might wonder if kids will work it out for themselves. After all, lots of smart people have managed to think logically without formal instruction in logic. Moreover, studies show that kids become better learners when they are forced to explain how they solve problems.
So maybe kids will discover principles of logic spontaneously, as they discuss their ideas with others. But research hints at something else, too. Perhaps the most effective way to foster critical thinking skills is to teach those skills.
Abrami et al Studies suggest that students become remarkably better problem-solvers when we teach them to analyze analogies create categories and classify items appropriately identify relevant information construct and recognize valid deductive arguments test hypotheses recognize common reasoning fallacies distinguish between evidence and interpretations of evidence Do such lessons stifle creativity?
Critical thinking is about curiosity, flexibility, and keeping an open mind Quitadamo et al And, as Robert DeHaan has argued, creative problem solving depends on critical thinking skills DeHaan In fact, research suggests that explicit instruction in critical thinking may make kids smarter, more independent, and more creative.
Here are some examples--and some expert tips for teaching critical thinking to kids. Teaching critical thinking may boost inventiveness and raise IQ Richard Herrnstein and his colleagues gave over seventh graders explicit instruction in critical thinking--a program that covered hypothesis testing, basic logic, and the evaluation of complex arguments, inventiveness, decision making, and other topics.
The project was remarkably effective. Compared to students in a control group, the kids given critical thinking lessons made substantial and statistically significant improvements in language comprehension, inventive thinking, and even IQ Herrnstein et al Then they randomly assigned some students to receive critical thinking lessons as part of their biology curriculum.
Students in the experimental group were explicitly trained to recognize logical fallacies, analyze arguments, test hypotheses, and distinguish between evidence and the interpretation of evidence.
Students in a control group learned biology from the same textbook but got no special coaching in critical thinking.
At the end of the program, students were tested again. The students with critical thinking training showed greater improvement in their analytical skills, and not just for biology problems.
The kids trained in critical thinking also did a better job solving everyday problems Zohar et al Tips for teaching critical thinking: What should parents and teachers do? The short answer is make the principles of rational and scientific thinking explicit.
Philip Abrami and colleagues analyzed studies about teaching critical thinking. The teaching approach with the strongest empirical support was explicit instruction--i. In studies where teachers asked students to solve problems without giving them explicit instruction, students experienced little improvement Abrami et al So it seems that kids benefit most when they are taught formal principles of reasoning.
And the experiments mentioned above suggest that middle school students aren't too young to learn about logic, rationality, and the scientific method.
I also wonder about the need to counteract the forces of irrationality.
What else can we do? And at home, parents may consider these recommendations made by Peter Facione and a panel of experts convened by the American Philosophical Association Facione Critical Thinking is an Extension of Critical Reading.
Thinking critically, in the academic sense, involves being open-minded - using judgement and discipline to process what you are learning about without letting your personal bias .
The Skills We Need for Critical Thinking. The skills that we need in order to be able to think critically are varied and include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem solving, and decision making.
Online advice and tutorials. What is critical thinking? Introduction to critical thinking and how you can apply critical thinking throughout your learning.
Assessing your critical thinking and writing is essential for improving these skills, but it's a step too often overlooked by intelligence analysts. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote essential change in education and society through the cultivation of fairminded critical thinking--thinking which embodies intellectual empathy, intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, intellectual integrity and intellectual responsibility.
“Too many facts, too little conceptualizing, too much memorizing, and too little thinking.” ~ Paul Hurd, the Organizer in Developing Blueprints for Institutional Change Introduction The question at issue in this paper is: What is the current state of critical thinking in higher education?