Tue | Jul 16, 2019

Ruth Green | Why educators should develop students’ critical thinking skills

Published:Wednesday | May 1, 2019 | 12:14 AM

Critical thinking skills have different meanings. It can be viewed from a basic perspective because it is more than memorisation; it’s thinking independently. Simply put, it is the ability to make objective judgement based on evidence rather than subjective feelings. The reality is profound because critical thinking skills is not limited to the sciences and math subjects, as most persons believe, but it is instrumental in everyday life as well; despite the myth.

If students are taught just what the educators know, they will be limited just to that information and will not be able to think objectively or analytically. People succeed in life because of their ability to resolve issues that they encounter during their personal journey in life.

REASONS EDUCATORS SHOULD DEVELOP STUDENTS’ CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS

- If certain skills are instilled at an early stage in children, then it will be seen as a developmental process, in which the students will realise that critical thinking is not limited to any particular subjects, but also includes feelings, beliefs and values. It will allow students to see critical thinking as a way of life, which involves many skills and abilities in treating ideas and facts. This will allow the students to evaluate their own thinking and change their behaviour as a result of thinking independently.

- Many students read well, but are somehow not able to comprehend what they just read. This shows the student’s limited ability to think, which relates to poor thinking skills and comprehension.

- To communicate information precisely, a student should have a firm foundation of what he wants to communicate and the ability to accomplish such task. In other words, some students cannot relate logically. Students should be taught to think outside the box so that they can also write and present ideas correctly.

- Structuring critical thinking into lesson plan will help students transfer the knowledge to other areas of their lives, which will improve the effectiveness of the lessons and empower the students to be independent, and eventually help them succeed in school and life.

- Students fail to reason mathematically because they cannot comprehend the problem. Higher-level math requires different thinking skills such as identifying sequences, inferential reasoning, deductive reasoning and classification.

- Some students fail tests because the tests assess their ability to think.

- Students need to be able to apply everything they know and feel already, to evaluate their own thinking, and to change their behaviour as a result of thinking critically.

- Critical thinking includes sequentially designed learning exercises to encourage cumulative learning.

- It is a moral right for students to be taught critical skills.

- Critical thinking helps students to learn appropriate responses to conflicting evaluations and opinions.

- Critical thinking encourages decision-making, which enables students to apply what they have learned to different situations.

FINALLY

Educators need to utilise critical thinking in their lessons every day. This can be done by asking open-ended questions, which will inspire quest for knowledge and problem-solving, which will boost their self-esteem in a way you can never image. Creating and developing a skilful teaching plan will assist students to transfer logical thinking skills to other areas of their lives, which will enhance the effectiveness of the lesson. This method will eventually reflect in their academic assessment, and empower the students to be innovative, independent, and become successful, both academically and otherwise.

Educators should seek out new ways for students to use information to create something new. For example, write story or poem or create games. A traditional method is brainstorming, which is an excellent exercise for critical thinking.

Educators must be critical thinkers first if they expect the students to develop the skills. Educators should also realise that logical thinking is a developmental process that requires careful planning of learning activities, which should centre on main ideas of different subjects rather than the content.

Educators should also realise that the success of any learning exercises depends on effective questioning, in order for the students to engage in critical thinking. Importantly, the educator needs to act as a facilitator to allow for discussion and encourage free thought process to get the best outcome.

Dr Ruth Green is an educator. Email feedback to reg_phd@hotmail.com and columns@gleanerjm.com