18 April, 2009

Developing Thinking Skills for the Future

By C. Radhakrishnan

Discussions about 21st century skills are highly noticeable in today’s educational environment. In a time where students in India are apparently falling behind those of comparable countries, much attention should be given to the need to improve the quality of our students’ thinking. Classroom is one of the best platforms for fostering critical thinking. Frequent use of critical questions can help to inculcate critical thinking culture among students.

Fostering Critical Thinking in the Classroom…

Regularly ask questions that explore student understanding of the content. Questions such as:

1. Focusing on purpose:
What is the purpose of this chapter? What is the principle function of this system?

2. Focusing on question:
What questions are emerging for you as we think our way through this issue? What is the key question in this chapter: What is the key question in this section of the chapter?

3. Focusing on information:
What information did the authors use in coming to these conclusions? How can we check to see if this information is accurate? How was the information obtained?

4. Focusing on inference: What can we logically conclude based on the information presented in this chapter? What conclusions did the authors come to? Were these conclusions justified given the evidence? Is there a more reasonable interpretation of the evidence than the conclusions these “experts” have come to?

5. Focusing on assumptions:
What do these authors take for granted in reasoning through this issue? Should we accept these assumptions or question them?

6. Focusing on concepts:
What are the key concepts presented in the chapter (or in the text as a whole)? How would you elaborate your understanding of the concepts we have been discussing?

7. Focusing on implications:
If we accept or reject the author’s reasoning, what does that commit me to?

8. Focusing on point-of-view: What are the authors focused upon in this chapter, and how are they seeing it? What point of view do you bring to reading? To what extent does one’s point of view reflect the way we interpret problems, questions and issues?