Critical Thinking: Why is it Important and How to Teach Them to Students?

As both an individual and a society, critical thinking is one of the most crucial skills you can have. As a teacher, it is maybe THE most important skill you can teach.

Students today are faced with a world of information, and critical thinking skills can help them process it critically and logically. Critical thinking skills have improved academic performance when students utilise the skillset throughout their education.

In this article, we will explore what critical thinking is and how it impacts student performance in school. You will learn about some important ways teachers can teach critical reasoning skills to students through instruction or by modelling these behaviours themselves during class time.

20- Second Summary

  • Critical thinking is the ability to think logically, clearly, and independently.
  • Critical thinking is essential because it makes you can think independently, helps you solve your problems, and is an all-around exercise for your brain.
  • Some ways to teach critical thinking are to have your students debate, ask frequent questions, and read and write their opinions on exciting topics.

What Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is a process in which someone evaluates an issue from multiple perspectives to be critical and logical in their evaluation. In critical thinking, one asks critical questions that lead to developing a critical understanding of a problem.

When herd mentality is becoming increasingly and frighteningly common, critical thinking is becoming rarer and more sought after than ever. Being able to think critically means that you can take your beliefs through the filters of logic. It also means that you are capable of constant introspection, clarity, and an independent mindset.

Critical thinking allows us to:

  • Methodically resolve issues
  • Filter our unnecessary and irrelevant ideas
  • Comprehend the logical reasoning behind concepts
  • Identify logical gaps in reasonings
  • Establish watertight arguments
  • Analyse others’ arguments

Why Are Critical Thinking Skills Important?

Critical thinking skills are critical for success in school, career and daily life. A world without critical thinking means a world without challenges, and without challenges means a world without advancement. Without critical thinking, our society would be a bunch of people choosing sides with full extremity without considering the greyness and complications of situations. It would just be people agreeing with each other or fighting without proper thinking or analysis. Well, that is happening a lot nowadays, to be honest.

In any case, these are some of the reasons why critical thinking skills are crucial:

It Makes You An Independent Thinker

You must have heard of the age-old proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”. As teachers, there is a lot that we must explain in a sort of “this is what it is” manner, but what we do not do enough is teach them to question. Like I had mentioned before, the world is becoming increasingly easily influenced. We need more and more individuals who can look at themselves and the world around them with a critical pair of eyes and who have their own opinions instead of just following the herd.

It Helps You Solve Problems

Thinking critically means that you are willing to spend more time on problems, analyze their roots and figure out ways to resolve them. Every generation has many issues that need solving, and our current and future generations are no different. There are large-scale issues that need to be solved, like global warming and overpopulation. Problem-solving is also one of the key features that employers look for in potential employees.

It Is Work Out For Your Brain

Critical thinking is possibly the best way to exercise your mind because it combines different facets of thinking.

Firstly, it makes you wonder about things. It makes you ask questions from the largest of scales to the most mundane of things. This means that you will never stop learning. You will develop a knack for understanding different sides and having different mindsets.

Secondly, it makes you think outside the box. Many schools have this terrible habit of boxing and limiting their students by just giving them information and expecting them to regurgitate the given information repeatedly. Thinking critically is an exercise that instead helps students think creatively.

Thirdly, it is an essential aspect of becoming a leader. Thinking critically helps a lot when you must make decisions, especially tough ones.

Critical thinking skills are critical in daily life because critical thinkers can identify problems. They solve those problems through reason, define goals to resolve the problem and then take action.

How To Teach Critical Thinking To Students?

No matter what type of teacher you are, you can help students think critically by modelling these behaviours themselves during class time. By critical thinking skills research, teachers ask critical questions that lead to developing a critical understanding of a problem.

Teachers should also define goals for their students and provide clear criteria for what success looks like in relation to those goals. In addition, they can teach students how to identify patterns and underlying assumptions when considering various points of view.

So how do we teach students to be critical thinkers? To be honest, it is not that difficult and here are some suggestions on how you can do the same.

Make Them Debate

When I was in secondary school, I was put on a debate team. I think a good portion of my critical thinking capabilities can be attributed to that whole experience. Debating is a great way to evolve your skills because you cannot spew random or false facts. You must conduct good research and be backed up by solid and relevant points and facts.

It also teaches you to present your arguments in the most convincing way possible. Also, since you will be debating with other people, it teaches you to think of the other side’s arguments since you will need to understand the other opponent to counteract their views. Due to all of these, debating can be a great all-around exercise for critical thinking.

P.S. They can be a lot of fun for students too. Just try to make sure that you choose topics they are interested in, and you will be surprised how much effort they can put in.

Make Them Ask

Perhaps one of the reasons we do not think critically as much is because we do not ask enough questions. Try to make it a regular thing in your classes to have students ask questions about anything and then discuss in class. Try to make it as open-minded as possible so that the students feel comfortable and interested.

If none of the students is willing to bring up questions, you can use a reward system to incentivise them to do so. You can give some questions as examples in the beginning to give them an idea of what to do. Just put the habit of questioning in their minds.

Make Them Read And Write

Again, this is something that used to happen in my English classes that I never appreciated. We used to have this homework, sometimes called Newspaper Clipping. It gave us a piece of news to read and then answered some questions and shared our opinions on the news. I now understand how important and valuable it was.

It does not have to be straight from the newspapers. You can give your students exciting pieces of information about the world, cultures, sports, phenomenon, current events, or anything that they either need to know or have curiosity in. Let them read and absorb information and then have them write their unfiltered opinions on them.

Do not just tell them what they need to believe or think. Instead, you can say to your students why you believe a certain way and then ask them to explain why they believe a certain way as well.

Also Read: Tips to engage young learners in your classroom.

Tips for parents to help their children develop critical thinking skills at home

Parents can do a few things to help their children develop critical thinking skills at home. One is to model critical thinking for their children. This can be done by asking critical questions about the characters in books that they read together or discussing news stories and their critical thinking skills when processing the information.

Another tip is to provide opportunities for critical thinking games and activities. You can do this by playing critical thinking board games or video games with your child. Have them figure out what to do next by being critical of their decisions or asking them to solve a crossword puzzle without looking up any words they do not know.

Parents can also help their children develop critical thinking by engaging them with critical reading, writing, and improving their math skills by having them solve a problem without using their calculator.

Conclusion:

Critical thinking skills are critical to success. As teachers, it is our responsibility to teach our students this new way of thinking. Critical thinking helps us be more thoughtful in our actions and make better decisions. Teaching students to think critically is possible at any age but requires patience and lots of practice. New habits take time to form, so do not give up on your child when they do not immediately grasp the concept.

I hope this article has been helpful to you, and I highly encourage everyone to teach their students, children, or siblings to practice critical thinking.

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This article was published on November 30, 2021.

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