Critical Thinking Activities
Critical thinking is meant to foster deeper understanding on a topic or issue, and there are several classroom activities that can do this. Allowing students to participate in fields trips that give them a cultural, enriching connection to the curriculum is one way. For example, students studying the Holocaust could visit a local historic museum and listen to guest speakers on the topic. If students in a drama class are putting on a production, it might be nice for them to visit an actual cast and crew of a local production and get the opportunity to ask them questions about their craft. A large part of critical thinking should be to allow learners to make connections between their curriculum and how it applies to the real world.
One great thing about teachers is their nature to share ideas and materials. There are a plethora of websites featuring such ideas that are available for educators to use for critical thinking activities. One helpful site is Teach-nology.com. It has a generous list of ideas and worksheets that can be printed for classroom use. Possible assignments include practice making predictions, mazes, and visual memory activities
MODULE: About critical thinking
TUTORIAL C02: How to improve critical thinking
Good critical thinking involves the mastery of a set of thinking skill. Like the acquisition of many other skills, there are three components: theory, practice, and attitude.
If we want to think correctly, we need to follow the correct rules of reasoning. Knowledge of theory includes knowledge of these rules. These are the basic principles of critical thinking, such as the laws of logic, and the methods of scientific reasoning, etc.
Also, it would be useful to know something about what not to do if we want to reason correctly. This means we should have some basic knowledge of the mistakes that people make. First, this requires some knowledge of typical fallacies. Second, psychologists have discovered persistent biases and limitations in human reasoning. An awareness of these empirical findings will alert us to potential problems.
However, merely knowing the principles that distinguish good and bad reasoning is not enough. We might study in the classroom about how to swim, and learn about the basic theory, such as the fact that one should not breathe under water. But unless we can apply such theoretical knowledge through constant practice, we might not actually be able to swim.
Similarly, to be good at critical thinking skills it is necessary to internalize the theoretical principles so that we can actually apply them in daily life. There are at least two ways.
One is to do lots of good-quality exercises. Exercises include not just exercises in classrooms and tutorials. They also include exercises in the form of discussion and debates with other people in our daily life.
The other method is to think more deeply about the principles that we have acquired. In the human mind, memory and understanding are acquired through making connections between ideas.
Good critical thinking skills require not just knowledge and practice. Persistent practice can bring about improvements only if one has the right kind of motivation and attitude. The following attitudes are not uncommon, but they will not help you improve your thinking :
I prefer being given the correct answers rather than figuring them out myself.
I don’t like to think a lot about my decisions as I rely only on gut feelings.
I don’t usually review the mistakes I have made.
I don’t like to be criticized.
To improve one’s thinking one must recognize that the importance of reflecting on the reasons for belief and action. One must also be willing to engage in debate, to make mistakes, to break old habits, and to deal with linguistic complexities and abstract concepts.
C02.4 Further discussion
Traditionally, critical thinking is usually associated with general education or philosophy in various educational institutions. However, the best way to teach and and improve critical thinking ultimately is a matter for the investigation of psychology and cognitive science. The design of a sutiable curriculum should take into account empirical findings on cognitive development and learning