The learning acquired in schools serves multi-dimensional purposes. It shapes your interests, future education plans, career plans, and personality. This cannot be accomplished solely through the school curriculum, but rather through a combination of academic learning and the development of life skills such as critical thinking.
What is critical thinking?
If you have already come across this term before, then you must know that this is a complex subject to discuss. But let’s try and break it down in the most simplified form. Critical thinking is the process of actively conceptualizing, analyzing, and applying the information gathered through observation, experience, or reflection. It relies on rationality and reasoning. Critical thinking is the ability to find solutions on the basis of evaluation, logic, and evidence.
Have you ever caught yourself in a moment where you have mugged up an answer to a question or a definition of a scientific phenomenon without clearly understanding its meaning and application? It does not take long for this one moment to turn into a habit. This might help you remember the answers, but your quality of learning is deteriorating.
Instead, if you choose to understand the definition, figure out its application and purpose, and go through some examples, you will not only remember the answer, but you will be learning consciously and expanding your knowledge. This is how critical thinking works.
Why should students have critical thinking skills?
There is a difference between memorization and learning. That difference is critical thinking. Everything you learn in school might have a practical implication in your professional life. You must have critical thinking skills in order to not just follow ideas or facts but to find the meaning and connection behind them.
It helps you form relevant arguments, find errors in reasoning, and synthesise solutions to problems. It is important that you develop this skill early in school because, as you move on, life gets tougher when you make choices like choosing a major in education or starting your own venture in the future. Critical thinking skills will be at the core of your decision-making.
How to increase critical thinking skills as a student?
1. Ask questions
It is often seen that students hesitate to ask questions in the classroom. It could be the result of a fear of speaking in public or of embarrassment. But don't hold back from asking questions that could help you learn better. Asking questions enhances your critical thinking in learning.
You can often wait for your class to finish before personally approaching your teacher and clearing up your questions. One question may lead to another, and that will further help in clearing your concepts. If nothing else, then you can always turn to the Internet and ask questions without being judged. Whereas when it comes to classrooms, here are a couple of questions that you may ask:
- Can you elaborate further?
- Can you give an example?
- Is there any other way to learn this?
- Can I use a different point of view?
- Can you explain this in a simpler manner?
2. Participate in discussions
Critical thinking skills for students can be developed through social experiences. If you get opportunities to participate in discussions, both online and offline, you must go ahead with it. This will help you come across different perspectives, it will introduce you to new information, you will face disagreements and more. It can give you a lot to think about and analyze. Plus, it helps you develop better communication skills.
3. Practice active learning
If you want to remember what you studied through understanding and not just by reciting it innumerable times, then you must practise active learning. It is a method of learning that is based on an experiential approach. Active learning can be achieved through group learning, case studies, demonstrations, visual learning, etc.
4. Study with the help of examples
It is easy to remember information through examples and stories as they reflect the practical implications. They contribute to mindful learning. Real-life examples, anecdotes, analogies, and facts help develop critical thinking skills.
5. Go beyond academic learning
The academic curriculum helps you lay the foundation for further learning. It is impossible to gather every piece of knowledge in the world or even on a particular subject. But if something strikes your curiosity, then go beyond your academic textbooks and indulge in more research and learning with the help of the Internet.
Pearson’s K12 education is focused on providing learning that helps students build critical thinking skills. It involves interactive learning activities and games that make education light-hearted and effective for students from pre-primary till class 12th. Pearson also offers support to teachers through its Active Teach and Comprehensive Teacher Resource Books. This helps teachers keep up with modern times and opt for innovative teaching techniques.