Yesterday we heard from a recent high school graduate who called on educators to ensure that ALL students are taught to think critically in all classes. I’m sure we all agree with this, but for some reason it doesn’t happen. Why? Why is it so hard to teach students to think even though this is the type of work they crave and enjoy?
The tough part is that teaching critical thinking is really different from teaching the side-angle-side theorem or the War of 1812. It cannot be taught effectively as one or two lessons, or even it’s own unit. Critical thinking is the process of learning to control one’s mind by consciously improving the quality of one’s thinking. Done well it fundamentally alters our students’ thinking habits so they are better thinkers all the time, not just during class. In order to empower students to use their minds well we need to give them the space to practice critical thinking every day. Yes. Every. Single. Day.
Yikes! How do we do this?
The best way to for teachers to learn to teach critical thinking is to take control of their own minds first. And summer is the perfect time to do this! So here’s our challenge to you: spend 15 minutes each day thinking about your thinking in order to make it better. Write your thinking down and ask yourself, what about this is most clear and precise? Where could it be deeper? More broad?
Once we start to make critical thinking a habit for ourselves, it becomes obvious to us that students can and must do the same. And we can envision our classrooms achieving this goal.