This question was the topic of discussion on yesterday’s first #edchat discussion on Twitter. (Or follow through the Educator’s PLN Ning.) Although I was quite engaged in other matters, I was able to peruse the discussions archived on the wiki which was helpful. It provided an opportunity to see the variety of ways we THINK about critical thinking. I agree with @cybraryman1’s comment that “good teaching requires an understanding of how technology relates to the pedagogy and content (see my #5.) As well, @Parentella makes the statement that “it requires critical thinking skills and problem solving to be able to function in the world we live in” whereby I give out a rebel yell ‘ YES!!’ and come down to reality. The way schools are structured in learning silos must be disintegrated. Reform is not the way, a learning revolution MUST take place in order for a majority of our schools to change the way they are educating students. (Check out my blog on The 21st Century Learning Environment and even Sir Ken Robinson’s Bring on the Learning Revolution TED talk.)
Here’s my own path towards critical thinking:
1) I have had various teachers and mentors who have facilitated my own immersion into critical thinking.
2) The definition of critical thinking from Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon cites that it is the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.
3) With the above definition in mind, I have even had an opportunity to work on the newer Bloom’s Taxonomy by giving it a digital addendum. (See my SLItech blog.)
4) I recently have been exposed to TC2 which is part of our AISI (Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) three year project. Critical thinking, according to TC2, is concerned with developing sound judgment. Teachers need to guide students to think critically through various forms of learning. Developing criteria to judge a particular project, instructing strategies to organize thinking and acquiring a vocabulary about thinking are some of the necessary activities to build critical knowledge and skills.
5) Finally, let’s talk tech. Being a BIG supporter of the TPACK model, I believe that critically thinking will involve some form of technology. If this isn’t clear, check out Judi Harris’ wiki with learning activity types which offers a way for teachers to deliberately plan their lessons with technology if they so wish. Now, add some critical challenges, investigation of images, ask some powerful questions and you have started on your way! (Sounds easy, but take little steps like concentrating on one form of critical thinking first) As well, our own K-12 Alberta Social Studiescurriculum is smattered with critical thinking possibilities to assist teachers.
Critical thinking is a lifelong learning process and I am certainly glad to be part of the experiences in our school division. I can thank Leah, Diane (our curriculum facilitators) and Wally (TC2) for that!