Alison King, in her article “Designing the Instructional Process to Enhance Critical Thinking across the Curriculum,”* relates the story of physics Nobel Prize winner Isidor Rabi. When he returned from school, he said his mother would not ask what had he learned, but rather what good questions had he asked that day. He said it had a profound influence on his learning. We teachers can do the very same with our pupils. Here’s how.Continue reading “Questions: Our Secret Weapon”
The New York Times’ Warren Berger suggests that critical thinking can get a boost if you ask the powerful questions “why” and “what if.” As questions proliferate, you are likely to get some good answers. Asking ‘why’ and ‘what if’.
Critical Thinking Now: Practical Teaching Methods for Classrooms around the World
Today’s curricula can (and should) incorporate critical thinking methods because they are the means by which people best understand, learn, and retain higher level concepts. Contrary to what many professional trainers assume, teaching critical thinking is not achieved by shoveling facts at an audience through lecturing or multiple choice testing. It requires sustained, finely tuned teaching and assessment methods. This book lays out a blueprint to do just that. Specifically, it outlines the necessary components of a critical thinking classroom and provides assessment techniques and ample exercises adaptable to any student’s field, age, or level of education.
Often not considered are those learners schooled in a non-Western culture and not proficient in the presenter’s language. These audiences can create invisible barriers to instruction. Without understanding these pitfalls, trainers invite frustration and failure, and risk wasting everyone’s time and money because they were unaware any problem existed. The book addresses these linguistic, cultural, and cognitive obstacles and suggests several solutions, whether you teach these students on your home turf or theirs.
Quizzes and tests are time-honored methods of finding out about student learning beyond what you think they know. But there is a quicker, informal, non-graded way to do that by asking them. Although it could be done every class session, I do it after I teach a certain skill and always at midterm so I can refine my teaching. I give them half sheets of paper and ask to tell me:Continue reading “Think they understand? Ask ’em.”