Throughout this week at Engaging Minds, we’ve presented posts that offer a number of suggestions for incorporating critical-thinking skills, activities, and strategies into your classroom. We also wanted to present some takeaway points that your students can use as they seek to hone their critical-thinking abilities.
In her book Essentials of Study Skills, Eighth Edition, Linda Wong presents several principles that can help students stay focused on their journey towards becoming more critical thinkers. We’ve summarized them below:
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Embrace curiosity! Grow your own knowledge by seeking out information on the topics that matter to you. Weigh arguments carefully and listen for the facts that support them. If something’s not clear to you, ask for clarification.
- Be an independent thinker. Carefully consider the strength and veracity of a statement before simply accepting it as true. Listen carefully for biases, assumptions, and opinions within another’s statements. Be especially careful when you’re reading, watching, or listening to a discussion on a controversial topic; with strong emotions often come exaggerations, sweeping generalizations, or distortions of the facts.
- Evaluate your own thinking. Ask yourself these probing questions: Do you tend to ignore your own biases and assumptions? Consider how you tend to react to information that’s new to you; should that change? Are there any topics about which you need to become better informed?
- Be open minded. Listen to another’s point of view before you jump to conclusions. Hear them out, and be ready to adapt, adjust, or change your own position if you find that what they’ve shared has opened your eyes to something you hadn’t previously known or considered.
- Distinguish between facts and opinions. Facts are objective and can be verified; opinions are subjective, and you may find a variety of opinions surrounding one topic.
- Continuously seek to refine your decision-making skills. Before acting, fully familiarize yourself with the problem from several angles. Identify what you want to achieve and the possible ways you can achieve it. Weigh the strengths and weaknesses of your options. Try to come up with solutions you hadn’t previously considered. Stay open to new ideas. (55-56)
Take the time to review these points on a regular basis, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an ever-stronger critical thinker!
Reference: Wong, Linda. 2015. Essential Study Skills, 8th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.