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Critical thinking in education

Critical thinking in education
Critical thinking in education

We all think. Thinking is part of human nature; However, much of our thinking, by itself, can be arbitrary, distorted, partial, or the product of misinformation and prejudice. We must be attentive to the quality of our thinking and that of our students. To do this, we use critical thinking in education.

What is critical thinking? Critical thinking, as an educational innovation, can be defined as the determined, deliberate and self-controlled intellectual process that seeks to reach a reasonable judgment.

The objectives of the critical thinking process are, first, to arrive at a reasonable judgment through an honest effort of interpretation, analysis and evaluation of evidence; and second, that this judgment is explicit and justified based on concepts, its context and the criteria on which it is based.

A trained critical thinker asks vital questions and problems clearly and precisely. Accumulate and evaluate relevant information and use abstract ideas to interpret that information effectively. Think with an open mind within alternate systems of thought. Recognizes and evaluates practical assumptions, implications, and consequences when devising solutions to complex problems, and communicates effectively.

The quality of student thinking and its closeness to the characterization of the Delphi Project. To do this, he determined the following seven measurement scales, which correspond to the desirable mentality in the student as a critical thinker, taking into account that he or she may possess one or more of these skills.

  1. Search for the truth
  2. Tolerance
  3. Willingness to be analytical
  4. Willingness to work systematically
  5. Self-confidence as a critical thinker
  6. Intellectual curiosity
  7. Maturity

How to get basic education students to practice the skills of the ideal critical thinker?

  • Asking open questions that allow students to express their opinions, force them to compare different sources, position themselves and explain what they have understood. You have to elaborate the pertinent questions.
  • Give time. Do not be bothered by the silence that occurs when we ask. Give students time to reflect and respond. As teachers we must provide the necessary tools for students to seek their own answers.
  • Use active methodologies. The methodologies where the student is a passive protagonist will only make him listen and repeat what the teacher has explained. Rather, strategies such as case studies, collaborative learning, project- or problem-based learning, and the flipped classroom will spark interest, motivation, and curiosity to learn. In addition, collaborative work will induce boys and girls to participate, share opinions, discuss, decide, seek information and discern to build a final joint response.
  • Foster a relaxed and trusting climate. If a good learning environment flows in the classroom, students will feel comfortable to give their opinions, to make mistakes and make a mistake, and to share. At that moment true learning occurs.
  • Promote autonomous learning. The role of the teacher must be of accompaniment in the learning process of girls, boys and young people. In this way, students build their own knowledge and, if they do not understand some content, they can ask for help from their classmates or their teacher. The latter should try to explain without giving the answer, asking more questions that help students to reflect and find their own answer.

Key critical thinking questions

In the Mini-guide for critical thinking. Concepts and tools, answer these questions as tools to promote the exercise of critical thinking in the classroom.

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Purpose: what am I trying to achieve? What is my central goal? What is my purpose?

Assumptions: what am I taking for granted? What assumptions lead me to this conclusion?

Implications / Consequences: If someone accepted my position, what would the implications be? What am I implying?

Points of view: from what point of view am I approaching this issue? Is there another point of view to consider?

Questions: What question am I asking? What question am I answering?

Pinion, critical thinking and Design Thinking

The axis of Pinion’s educational and technological model is Design Thinking or Design Thinking. This methodology was developed at Stanford University, California, in the 1970s. It is focused on understanding and solving the real needs of users. As a driving methodology for innovative ideas, Design Thinking began to be applied in education from the new century.

The Pinion Model starts from the seven stages of the Design Thinking process proposed at Stanford, and synthesizes them into four steps that lead to the resolution of the real problems posed to the students: Investigate / Design / Make and program / Communicate.

In the projects of the Pinion program (Digital Citizenship and ICT, Programming, Automation or Maker) a real problem arises from which a question is triggered. This initial question invites the student to ask himself about said problem: why is it a problem? Where does it arise from? What are its consequences? And, above all, how to solve it?

The development of critical thinking occurs during the research process and as an integral part of it (ask, question, define the problem and seek its solution). It is an important piece in the steps of Design Thinking in general, but critical thinking is present in the whole process of Pinion’s Design Thinking, since it is also used to Design, Make-Program and Communicate the response obtained by the students of the trouble.

 Stimulate critical thinking

The approach to learning in which the student is the central actor and responsible for their own learning, is key to stimulating critical thinking. Its purpose is to move students from the position of passive receivers of knowledge to the position of participants motivated by their own learning.

Unlike an approach centered on the teacher, to whom the student gives his possibility of learning, critical thinking proposes collaborative learning, where the student has the possibility of developing the responsibility and autonomy necessary to think critically.

In the field of education, there is a consensus on the need to train more autonomous and creative students in all branches of knowledge, endowed with thinking skills that allow them to relate to knowledge and reality with their own criteria and, therefore, more free. Therefore, the improvement in the quality of thinking should be exercised in a systematic way.