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.
Click Rowman & Littlefield for more information. Happy critical thinking!
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.”
A wonderful article about questions: what to ask and why they’re important. No one mentions critical thinking. That’s OK. You and I still know asking why is the engine behind most of it.
The Foundation for Critical Thinking is offering certification in its method for understanding and teaching critical thinking. I’ve attended and presented at several of its conferences and think it’s really necessary to see how the method in action to really understand how to do it. It’s billed as an approach to reason through a problem or issue, applicable to any field–business, academia, life, etc. (as any method should be).Continue reading “Foundation for Critical Thinking Offers Certification in Paul-Elder Method”
For all my research and reading and writing about critical thinking, I was surprised I hadn’t heard about the Association for Informal Logic and Critical Thinking (AILACT). It works in conjunction with the American Psychological Association and at times the Canadian Philosophical Association. It’s a very low-key group but recently put out a plan to ramp up their profile and extend their audience. The proposal is very comprehensive and, to me, exciting, since they deserve more attention by the field. Most members approach the academic end of critical thinking and research areas such as the theory of fallacies, argument diagramming, and the meaning and nature of critical thinking. Some are more practically bent toward curriculum development and the teaching. All good stuff. They offer information about textbooks, teaching, and meetings, even consultants who will help develop curricula and business plans. Go to https://ailact.wordpress.com/ for more info and to pay your $10 for access to the members’ area and other goodies.
I may have mentioned The Consortium for Critical Thinking (https://tc2.ca/) on this site before, but it bears repeating. It’s a Canadian outfit and is going through a few leadership changes, but is one of the best sites I know of for practical information on teaching critical thinking. You can join, but there is still a generous amount of information accessible for free. The resources are skewed a bit toward elementary and middle and even high school students. But it’s easily adaptable for other types of students and situations. Worth a look-see to freshen your ideas about teaching and topics.
I said to a colleague the other day that teachers should know more about active learning since that approach is integral to teaching critical thinking. He just looked at me, incredulous that this information would be news to any teacher. Well, just click on
(All Things Considered 4/13/16) to hear/read Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman’s interview about how active learning “can dramatically boost learning” and why so many teachers still cling to lecturing. Why do you think they do?
My long absence from this blog can be blamed 100% on the book I am writing about critical thinking titled Critical Thinking Now: Practical Teaching Methods for Classrooms around the World. It will be published by Rowan & Littlefield later this year.
I don’t want to talk about what’s in it so much (I will later on) as the process of writing it. I’ve thought about critical thinking for over 25 years, and, because of that immersion in the field, I didn’t think it would take too much heavy lifting. Boy, was I wrong. I ran into two problems: Organizing my thoughts and massive self-doubt.
I don’t care how practiced you are at writing, organizing your thoughts is a tough slog, . But a book especially unwieldy. It demands layer upon layer of organization that sews all the paragraphs, sections, chapters, theme, and title together. It’s a hearty exercise in critical thinking if you are going to be precise, logical, and clear throughout. It took constant vigilance and frequent reconsideration of what I was trying to say at every step. This challenge, I expected.
The other problem came out of left field: imaginary people who came in, uninvited and unannounced, and taunted me with comments such as, “Who do you think you are to write a book about critical thinking?” “Stop this! You’re embarrassing yourself.” “You have no idea what you’re talking about!” I almost bought their siren’s song and dumped the project. Self-doubt is a powerful deterrent to us writers.
I decided to handle those voices with a two-pronged approach. First, I wrote down everything they “said” so I could get some distance from them and not feel as if I were going crazy. And second, I kept saying to myself, Who else is going to write this book if I don’t? After all, the main reason I wrote it was to provide a new perspective on the issues that I hadn’t read anywhere else.
In the end, I succeeded in slaying those two evil dragons and finished the manuscript. The voices are gone, but what lingers is a lot greater appreciation of the amount of critical thinking and fortitude it takes to write a book about critical thinking.
Gail Godwin justifies her struggle with the demons of writing by stating, “What is produced is a little bit different from anything I planned. There is always a surprise, a revelation. During the act of writing I have told myself something that I didn’t know I know I knew.”
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