Finding successful practices that adequately prepare students to embrace the complexity of the modern world is a challenge educators face. The information revolution and the availability of search engines have put less value on knowing information and more on knowing how to think. Although reading, writing and arithmetic are still cornerstones in a quality education, thinking is the key to success. Students need to learn how to think, think to learn, think together, think about their thinking, and think big.
One might believe that learning how to think does not have to be taught. Learning to think has been compared to learning to walk. Children are not taught how to walk, so why do they need to be taught how to think? It is true that children are not taught how to walk, but moving with precision and style takes much time and coaching. Just as learning to think takes practice and guidance.
The development of critical thinking skills begins early. Three to five year olds are capable of planning and reflecting. Young children need opportunities to plan what they want to do, carry out their ideas, solve problems and review their experiences with their teachers and peers. Providing our youngest learners with opportunities to think will provide the foundation for thinking to learn.
As students advance, it is essential that they develop a full range of thinking skills and that the quality of thinking is valued and not the quantity. Students need to engage in authentic problem solving, simulation, service learning, connecting relevance to current issues and teaching others. Opportunities to develop in-depth mastery of challenging tasks related to real world issues while using reflective thought, analysis, problem solving, self-evaluation, and creativity cultivates critical thinking and allows students to think with their peers, reflect, and evaluate their own thinking.
So, I am going to close now and think about my thinking. After I have reflected, I think I will go solve some problems.
Happy Spring Break!