Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Critical Thinking

Last year I wrote a 6,000 word assignment on the importance of teaching critical thinking, reasoning and argument skills. I wouldn't dare try to subject you to all those words but here were my concluding thoughts.....

Claxton (2007, 132) argues that ‘trying to find a form of schooling that enables all young people to get better at learning – to come at life venturesome, imaginative and questioning – is the most important task that faces education’ Whilst written seven years ago this is very much the challenge increasingly facing education today. Indeed, Kincheloe and Weil (2004) have argued that during this time of unprecedented opportunity, increased challenge and accelerating change we must take seriously the challenge of preparing children to be critical thinkers.  The birth of the cyber/ technological revolution means that children need to possess the skills to allow them to weigh up evidence (which is so readily available) and make reasoned and informed decisions. This metacognitive process is so important as it allows one to develop one’s own thinking and reasoning.

Teaching critical thinking skills not only means increasing informed participation in the democratic process but generally providing young people with skills that will allow them to prosper regardless of their chosen occupation. I would also argue that these skills do not need to be taught as separate entities. Indeed, critical thinking activities can be easily embedded or infused into the existing strands of the National Curriculum. However, for this to be truly effective requires passionate educators across all phases willing to embrace the teaching of critical thinking skills. Indeed, ‘when teachers understand and value thinking, they naturally create thinking dispositions in their children, to become aware of their thinking, a condition for learning how to learn and becoming life long learners’ (Salmon and Lucas, 2011, p. 373). In conclusion I would argue that teaching critical thinking, reasoning and argument skills is essential if we want our education systems to develop critical, creative, thoughtful and reflective young people.

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