Category: Critical thinking
An Abbreviated Glossary of Critical Thinking Concepts and Terms critical thinking: Everybody thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or down-right prejudiced. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought through critical thinking must be systematically cultivated. A well-cultivated critical thinker: raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely; gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively; comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards; thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be their assumptions, implications, and consequences; and communicates effectively with others figuring out solutions to complex problems.
Critical thinking in children: Are we teaching our kids to be dumb? © 2008 - 2014, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. all rights reserved In his review of critical thinking research, Stephen Norris wrote that critical thinking in children is uncommon: “Most students do not score well on tests that measure ability to recognize assumptions, evaluate arguments, and appraise inferences" (Norris 1985). Why is critical thinking so difficult? Analytical Thinking: Why You Need It and How to Get Better Analytical thinking skills are critical in the work place because they help you to gather information, articulate, visualize and solve complex problems. Even with comprehensive training, there will be many times where you will be put on the spot to think analytically and the right or wrong answer could make a difference with regard to your upward mobility within the company. You want your employees and especially your boss to trust that you will make the most well-informed and correct decisions. Some decisions can even make or break your career.
Student Publication: Critical Thinking and Reflection Slide Show “Responsibility to yourself means that you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions.” – Adrienne Rich Students find more opportunities to thrive when offered more ways to reflect on their learning, and more ways to provide evidence of their learning. Many students (and instructors) may be steeped in the world of The Academic Essay, but there are many more ways for students to explore their discipline and demonstrate their scholarship–and many more ways for you, the instructor, to offer varied, interesting and useful assignments.
Think About It: Critical Thinking Critical thinking has become a buzzword in education. In the past, the emphasis in classrooms has been on imparting information and content — the times tables or the capitals of the United States, for example. In recent years, however, there's been a shift toward teaching critical thinking, a skill that elevates thinking beyond memorization into the realm of analysis and logic. Put another way, critical thinking is about knowing how to think, not what to think. Teachers use a number of techniques to help students learn critical thinking, starting as early as kindergarten and ramping up especially in 2nd grade and beyond. Below are a few of the methods educators employ; you can try them at home to help your child become a critical thinker.
How to Become an Outstanding Critical Thinker mind map Problem Solving Skills Search our Knowledge Base of hundreds of Self-Growth mind maps and resourcesClick to Search Question The Answers
The Importance of Critical Thinking It strikes me that this is an era of pressing choices – personal and collective. Simplistic, lazy, rote thinking cannot address the complexities we face. We’re caught up in old, polarized, dualistic thinking that is not only an impediment to our growth – but regressive and potentially dangerous. How do we make complex decisions in the face of such pressure?
Critical Thinking for Children Author: Dr. Linda Elder Publisher: Foundation for Critical Thinking Copyright: 2006 Pages: 24 Dimensions: 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" ISBN (10Digit): 0-944583-29-6 ISBN (13Digit): 978-0-944583-29-6 The essence of critical thinking concepts and tools written in language accessible to children. How We Think: John Dewey on the Art of Reflection and Fruitful Curiosity in an Age of Instant Opinions and Information Overload by Maria Popova “To maintain the state of doubt and to carry on systematic and protracted inquiry — these are the essentials of thinking.” Decades before Carl Sagan published his now-legendary Baloney Detection Kit for critical thinking, the great philosopher, psychologist, and education reformer John Dewey penned the definitive treatise on the subject — a subject all the more urgently relevant today, in our age of snap judgments and instant opinions. In his 1910 masterwork How We Think (free download; public library), Dewey examines what separates thinking, a basic human faculty we take for granted, from thinking well, what it takes to train ourselves into mastering the art of thinking, and how we can channel our natural curiosity in a productive way when confronted with an overflow of information. Dewey begins with the foundation of reflective thought, the defining quality of the fruitful, creative mind:
Critical Thinking Skills in Education & Life Critical = Evaluative To avoid misunderstanding, this page begins by explaining what it isn't: critical thinking is not necessarily being "critical" and negative. In fact, a more accurate term would be evaluative thinking. The result of evaluation can range from positive to negative, from acceptance to rejection or anything in-between. Yes, critical evaluation can produce a glowing recommendation. Critical Thinking On The Web Top Ten Argument Mapping Tutorials. Six online tutorials in argument mapping, a core requirement for advanced critical thinking.The Skeptic's Dictionary - over 400 definitions and essays. The Fallacy Files by Gary Curtis.
Work Sheet Library: Critical Thinking: Grades 6-8 Welcome to Education World's Work Sheet Library. In this section of our library, we present more than 100 ready-to-print student work sheets organized by grade level. Click on a grade level folder below to find a library of work sheets that you can use with your students to build a wide variety of critical thinking skills. All the work sheets in this library were provided to Education World by our partners at CriticalThinking.com.
To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And gentle sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;--
Go forth under the open sky, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around--
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air,--
Comes a still voice --Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that hourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolv'd to earth again;
And, lost each human trace, surrend'ring up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements,
To be a brother to th' insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thy eternal resting place
Shalt thou retire alone--nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
. With patriarchs of the infant world--with kings
The powerful of the earth--the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. --The hills
Rock-ribb'd and ancient as the sun,--the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The vernal woods--rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and pour'd round all,
Old ocean's grey and melancholy waste,--
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.--Take the wings
Of morning--and the Barcan desert pierce,
Or lost thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregan, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings--yet--the dead are there,
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep--the dead reign there alone. --
So shalt thou rest--and what if thou shalt fall
Unnoticed by the living--and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh,
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come,
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron, and maid,
The bow'd with age, the infant in the smiles
And beauty of its innocent age cut off,--
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, that moves
To the pale realms of shade, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourge d to his dungeon, but sustain'd and sooth'd
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
Bryant first wrote this poem when he was about 17, after reading the British "graveyard poets" (e.g. Thomas Gray, "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" and Robert Blair, "The Grave ")and William Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads. In particular, there are parallels to Wordsworth's Lucy poems, especially "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal":
A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.
No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.
Bryant enlarged "Thanatopsis" in 1821, 7 years later, adding the final injunction and giving the poem a kind of religious point. Do you think his youth is part of how he is viewing death at 17? How do you account for the change? How might he have rewritten it 20 or 50 years later?
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After reading the poem, consider the following questions.
1. What Greek words were combined to make the title? How do the meanings of these words contribute to the meaning of the poem?
2. Define the following words; consider the context of the poem: shroud, pall, narrow house, and sepulcher. How do these words and their meanings impact the meaning of the poem?
3. Is this poem about life, or is this a poem about death? Explain your answer.
4. The tone of this poem shifts. What is the tone in the first part of the poem? When does the tone shift? What is the tone after the shift?
5. Thanatopsis is an ELEGY. What is an Elegy? What are the conventions of an elegy? What elements of Thanatopsis meet those conventions?
6. This poem was written early in the nineteenth century. The type of landscape art during this time period favored sweeping panoramas, wild vistas, untamed landscapes, and views of the sky. Look at Thanatopsis as a visual description of a painting. What elements of the poem are like a painting? What images are created in the poem? What landscape is created?
7. Thanatopsis is a poem that can be interpreted in several ways. How is this a Romantic poem?
Below are some of my recollections of making these CDs.
The Thanatopsis CDs are an important part of my musical output over the last several years. Thanks to Buckehead's participation, my music reached an audience it never would have before and allowed me and all of us to do something quite different from what we did on our own.
This has always been a bit of a two-edged sword in that the music I make and that Buckethead wanted to make with me was really quite different than what his following expected from him. I'm not sure why there were any expectations to begin with at all, given that his output up till then had been very eclectic. One of the things I most admire about him is his willingness to follow the whims of his musical interest regardless of how he thinks it will be perceived.
Also, things were changing, and his following among the young metal and shred fans was growing; and as time went on, the eclectic music that came before was becoming less known. So Thanatopsis began as a bit of a bastard stepchild, loved by some, hated by others.
Fortunately for me, I was quite oblivious to all this. Thanatopsis to me and Buckethead had always been my project that he was interested in playing on, for which I'm grateful and thankful. I simply followed my whims, and we all loved the result.
The first Thantopsis CD was released in 2001. As I mention in my comments on "Anatomize" below, I have noticed over time that appreciation for these records has grown, and interest in them has taken on a life of its own quite apart from their being a side project for Buckethead. And that's how it should be.
-- Travis Thanatopsis
I started working with Buckethead sometime in the late '90s. We had worked on Viggo's record "One Less Thing To Worry About," and I did "Cobra Strike," "CSII," "Somewhere Over The Slaughterhouse" and some others. For "CSII" and "Somewhere Over The Slaughterhouse" I had fashioned some tracks for Buckethead to play over and told him if he liked them, he was welcome to use them. "Spider Crawl," "Pin Bones and Poultry" and a few others were the result.
Sometime in 2000 I started putting together a bunch of these types of tracks. I asked Ramy, who had been doing sessions here, if he was interested in playing on them; and before I knew it, I had "Thanatopsis," the first CD. It's been a while, but I seem to recall that "Worm Hole" was the first of them. I would put the tracks together, Buckethead would add a few things, I would edit, Ramy would add his thing, and then more edits and all of us would add a bit here and there. We worked that way through the whole CD during the year.
I think my favorite is "Final Reparation." I used loops I made from Mozart and played my funky upright piano to it. Then Ramy played, and then Buckethead. We also put Buckethead's guitar through my Hammond organ Leslie for the eerie guitar sound on "A Thanatopsis."
I'd had the idea of doing a project called "Thanatopsis" before starting this project. I always liked the William Cullen Bryant poem, and in fact I named one of the tracks we did on the Death Cube K "Tunnel" CD "Thanatopsis." Thantaopsis was meant to be dark and evoke the feeling from the poem, and I had Fred from my Macintosh read the poem as the intro to the last track. -- Travis
After finishing the first Thanatopsis CD, I never stopped constructing tracks. I kept working on them over the next couple of years whenever I had a chance. The way I worked was, I would create an idea or chord change and lay that on top of a programmed drum. I would then flesh that out and bring in Ramy to add drums. Then Buckethead would take some passes and riffs.
All of these CDs involved lots of editing to put together the final product. But we didn't always work that way.
A couple of the tracks were started from snippets of riffs and chord changes Buckethead would play to drum loops. Usually after tracking he would let the loop play, and then play by himself for a while as raw material to create new tracks from. Later I would edit the bits together and play keys on them. Then Ramy would replace the drum loops. The track "New Year" was created this way.
Since so much time had gone by from the first CD and no preconceived ideas went into making this CD, no attempt was made to replicate the vibe of the first one. The result was quite a different sound from the first CD. But we thought any CD that had the three of us on it would be Thanatopsis, and that's the way it stayed. -- Travis
The making of "Anatomize" is really an extension of the story of making the first two Thanatopsis CDs.
Long periods of time would go by when I was the only one available to work on these projects, so I just kept making tracks. I had in mind a solo CD; but when the other guys became available, I had them play on these tracks, and since any tracks that all three of us played on became Thanatopsis, a new Thanatopsis CD was produced.
This is my favorite Thanatopsis CD. I was more than aware that I would probably be alienating some of our audience (all two dozen of them). Buckethead's fans had gotten younger and he was getting into more of a hard metal sound on his own CDs, and I was much more interested in nuance and mood. That was going to clash at some point. But among us, both Buckethead and Ramy were supportive of this direction, and it gave everyone a chance to dabble in something none of us did apart.
One of the things I most admire about Buckethead is that he doesn't care about any other considerations having to do with what he works on, as long as he thinks it has merit. I have never had a genre of music I liked more than another. I always look for the merits of the music, whatever style it is.
I think that's always a good part of collaboration. Without the contribution of each of us, this wouldn't have worked on any level, and it became my favorite because I think it achieves a combination of mood and dexterity.
I have seen these CDs called jazz or jazzy. I never understood that, unless the definition of jazz is music that's not in any other category. I have never been influenced by jazz and have no real working vocabulary in jazz as a musician. There are vary few key changes or tempo and time signature changes on these CDs. I think there are more classical and blues sounds here than anything else, but it really is just hard to categorize. I hope so, anyway.
Interestingly, as new Buckethead fans became younger and more into aggressive metal, the Thanatopsis tracks that had been placed on Youtube began to generate an audience quite independent from the younger metal listeners. I've started seeing much more interest in these records over the last couple of years. I think they have found their own audience; and as the younger listener matures, a new appreciation for what we had been doing has emerged.
I don't know if there will be any more Thanatopsis CDs. I guess it's possible that the three of us could play together on something sometime again, and by definition that would be Thanatopsis. However, in a lot of ways I think it's a nice little body of work; and if this is the last one, I'm happy with that. -- Travis
Piano, Hammond B3 and Hammond C2 with Leslie 122 and 147, Mini Moog, Virus, Tokyo, Fender Rhodes Suitcase, Yamaha CP-80. (The piano behind me is the one used for "Final Reparation" on Thanatopsis one.)
Hammond B3 used on "Pretzel Logic," "Vicious Circle" and "New Year."
One of the bigger setups.
One of the smaller setups, with bells on feet.Buckethead played his custom Les Paul for all the electric guitar parts; acoustic guitars were Yamaha steel string and a Yamaha gut string. Amps were a Mesa Recto or Peavey 5150 going to a 4X10 cabinet, mic'ed with a Royer 121 and a Sony C37 tube mic. A lot of guitar parts were recorded direct through a Neve 1073 mic pre after going through hundreds of stomp boxes.
Les Paul (custom made for Buckethead by Gibson).
Pedal used everywhere, including the bass part on "New Year."
Pedal used for the note-bending solo on track 9.
Amp used for the song "Axiology" and other solos.
Buckethead played his Yamaha acoustic plugged directly into the board and overdubbed his white Les Paul directly to a Neve 1073 preamp to tape for the lead guitar. Keys are just piano and a violin and cello sample I love. I played the bass on a Mini Moog. Ramy used the 22" kick drum and one of his vintage Ludwig steel snare drums.
2. Pretzel Logic
Buckethead played rhythm guitars plugged directly in, but the leads were through his 5150 amp and mic'ed. Keyboards were piano, Hammond B3 through a Leslie 122 cabinet and the Virus synth. Bass was Mini Moog. You can hear Ramy's 28" kick drum on the breaks and his use of two different snare drums.
3. Vicious Circle
Here Buckethead is going through a chain of pedals going directly in. He's switching pedals and tone for every go-round of the form. Keys are Hammond B3, piano and Mini Moog bass. Ramy is using a 20" kick drum on this.
Buckethead plays a steel string acoustic and his Les Paul through a 5150 amp for the leads. I'm playing the Fender Rhodes and a cello sample. The bass is Mini Moog. Ramy is using a digital delay that he triggers from a pedal. You can hear it kick in during the second half of the verses; the drums double back on themselves, then decay off.
This is Buckethead playing slapping bass and a picking electric guitar part. I'm playing a Moog synth and strings. Ramy is using a 20" kick drum.
Buckethead is playing a steel string acoustic guitar for both the rhythm and solo track. He also plays the bass on a Fender P-Bass through his micro synth pedal. I'm playing piano, B3 and strings. Ramy has an 8" tom on the kit and he played shakers, tambourine and bells as well.
Buckethead is playing his Les Paul through many pedals direct to tape. Keys are piano, Virus synth and Moog bass. Drums are set up with the 22" kick.
Keys are piano, cello and Virus synth. Bass is the Moog. Buckethead is playing through his 5150 amp. Ramy is using the 20" kick drum.
Guitar is going direct through a bunch of pedals. The solos went through Bucket's Mesa Recto amp. Keys are piano, Virus and Tokyo synths and the Fender Rhodes. Bass was the Moog. Ramy is using 13" and 16" toms and 22" kick.
10. Top Of The World Ma (from 'White Heat,' if you're wondering)
Guitar is the Les Paul through the 5150. Keys are piano strings, Tokyo and Virus synths and Moog bass. Drums are 10", 12" and 16" toms and 24" kick.
I get a lot of requests asking for pages similar to what I posted for the making of "Axiology." On that page I gave a song-by-song description of who played on what.
I'm going to do that here as well, though not in such detail because a lot of the same instruments were used in the making of this CD as on "Axiology." So if you look at that page, you can get a lot of info about "Anatomize" as well.
The next-most-popular question is "How do you create the songs on these CDs?" Since the name of this CD is "Anatomize," I thought I would take apart the song "Simper" and dissect it for you.
Listen to "Anatomy of Simper" (you can follow along):
Not all Thanatopsis project songs were created the same way, but in the case of "Simper," it went like this:
The first part of the MP3 shows how I first outlined the song structure. I worked out the chord changes and recorded the Fender Rhodes to a click track. I haven't included the click on the MP3 so as not to be so annoying. The next part of the MP3 shows the next step in the building of the song with the overdubbing of the Hammond B3 (it actually enters a bit later but was recorded next), strings and bass. Next you hear Buckethead's first overdubbed guitar, in this case a Fender Telecaster. The next step is the three of us -- Ramy playing my studio Gretsch drum kit, Buckethead playing the Les Paul and me playing the Moog synth -- taking the final pass. You can listen to the entire finished mix of the song here:
"Anatomize" was a long journey. I recorded lots of tracks that, as usual were ideas I had for a solo record. The direction of the record was all over the map. Some sounded a lot like the first Thanatopsis CD, some similar to "Population Override" some even went into "Gorgone" territory. In the end we continued the aesthetic that "Axiology" represents, with a little of everything else thrown in.
So with that in mind I culled out stuff that I thought didn't work in this context, and we continued to pursue the direction this CD represents because we enjoyed it so much. We made this record for us, but I hope you enjoy it too.
The Fender Telecaster and Hammond B3 used on most of "Anatomize."
The Gretsch drum kit used on the record.
A close look at the Ludwig Black Beauty used on almost every track.
Track 1. Counter Clockwise
Keyboards are Fender Rhodes, Moog lead and Moog bass. Guitars are Tele and Les Paul on leads. Drums are pretty much the same setup on most tracks as the photo above.
Track 2. Break Even Point
Keyboards are B3, Moog lead and bass. Guitars are both Tele and Les Paul.
Track 3. Vitreous Humor
Keyboards are Rhodes, the synth is a Prophet 5, and Moog bass. I'm using an arpeggiator on one of the Moog lines. Guitars are Tele and Les Paul on the leads.
Track 4. Pollyanna
Keyboards: Rhodes, Prophet 5, B3, Strings, Moog bass. Guitar is the Les Paul.
Track 5. Prolix Mood
This track was the most work for me. I had a pretty delicate theme but I wanted to create a really dense orchestration of different elements. This song is a collage, a sum of its parts. I wanted to see how dense it could be and still hang on to the melody. Keyboards: everything, really. Lots of guitar parts played with both the Tele and Les Paul.
Track 6. Common Ground
Keyboards: Rhodes, Moog lead. Guitars: Tele and Buckethead plays the bass.
Track 7. Unnerved
Keyboards: piano, Prophet5, B3, Moog bass. Guitar was the Telecaster.
Keyboards: Rhodes, B3, strings, Moog lead and bass. Guitars: Tele and Les Paul.
Track 9. Broca's Area
Another dense track. I did a lot of Moog programming for this one. Keyboards: Moog, Rhodes, Moog bass. Guitars: Tele and Les Paul.
Track 10. Cross Section
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Keyboards: Rhodes, Prophet 5, strings, Moog bass. Guitar was the Les Paul. Ramy threw a bed sheet over the whole kit while laying down this track. The sheet dampens the drums and adds an old-time compressed sound.
Both CDs and downloads are now listed together in the music store. You can find most of our CDs on iTunes, but we are also moving everything to Bandcamp. You will find the Bandcamp links in the catalog with the CDs. If a download isn't listed in the catalog, it's not available yet. Everything we sell is in the store catalog. If you don't see it, we don't have it available. But feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Romantic writers find beauty and authenticity in the supernatural realm.
William Cullen Bryant and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow provide excellent samples of works of
Romantic poetry with their poems, "Thanatopsis" and "The Cross of Snow." In "Thanatopsis,"
Bryant attempts to describe the ways in which life after death is superior to life on Earth. In
Longfellow's poem, he mourns the lost of his wife. Although both poems treat the subject of
death as the main idea, they convey differences and similarities in their use of poetic elements.
Both poems convey correspondence in their use of imagery, Romantic ideas,
and theme. "Thanatopsis" and "The Cross of Snow," first of all, reveal likeness in their use of
imagery. The two poems both recognize features of nature when using imagery, everything from
the ground up to the sky. The two poems also exhibit similitude in the Romantic ideas which
they convey. "Thanatopsis" reflects the ideas of Romanticism because it explains that when
people die, everyone goes back to the Earth and becomes a part of it. The Romantics were
incredibly attuned to nature, so it would make sense that Bryant believed that people returned to
nature after death. Likewise, in "The Cross of Snow," aspects of nature are utilized as a means
for expressing emotions that are probably too painful to express directly. Both poems, finally,
coincide in placing an emphasis on death. "Thanatopsis" is more welcoming of death. It does
not view death as a solemn event as in "The Cross of Snow."
Both poems display divergence in their use of tone, structure, and imagery.
"Thanatopsis" and "The Cross of Snow," to begin with, lack congruity in their use of tone. For
example, the tone in "Thanatopsis" is more hopeful and more joyful than the tone in "The Cross
of Snow," in which the tone is more serious. The two poems additionally show evidence of
dissimilarity in their use of structure and organization. A.
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Critical thinking skills are important at any point in life. Studies have shown that children as young as four can understand critical thinking skills. Strong critical thinkers can grow up to become lawyers, politicians, judges, scientists, and mathematicians – essentially any profession where challenging the accepted belief is encouraged. Like any other skill, there are ways that you can start your children off early learning the critical thinking skills that will benefit them later in life. There are five generally accepted base-level steps to promoting these personality traits in children:
Intellectual curiosity is the foundation of critical thinking. Here, it is important to understand the distinction between lecturing and questioning your child. When teaching your child about the world around them, stop frequently and ask them questions about why they think something is the way it is or about what someone's reasoning might have been for doing something. Some experts advocate stopping as frequently as every 30 seconds to ask a questions – understanding that you may not always get an answer. You can also use a wrong answer as a lead-in to try and have them understand the more abstract notion of why something went wrong rather than why it went right.
Encourage them to explain their position on things
Everyone knows that children of a certain age can be very opinionated. An everyday critical thinking exercise is to ask your child to explain their position on an opinion they offer. Don't push too hard or take it far enough that they become frustrated, but allowing them to collect their thoughts on a subject and verbally express their reasoning can be one of the most important foundations of critical thinking development. An easy way to spark this mode of thinking is to ask your child to start their explanation of an opinion with a statement like, 'I agree/disagree because.. '.
Ask them provocative and abstract questions
Once a foundation has been laid where your child understands how to reason through the steps in answering an open-ended question, you can move on to helping your child hone their reasoning skills. Present them with abstract questions and guide them to think through their opinion. This will allow them to define the terms of a question in their head, draw on evidence that they have learned or observed, and join the two to form an argument. This seems like a simple thing to an adult, but it is an important skill in the development of critical thinking skills in children. You can also layer and un-layer your questions, building upon the reasoning presented in previous questions. A good example of this would be a question along the lines of questioning what bricks are made of and then leading to the next question of why bricks make good building material. You can even take it one step further in the abstract reasoning chain and pose a follow up to that question of under which circumstances, then, might bricks not make a good building material.
Teach them that sometimes, things are not what they seem or what they have been taught
This can be a hard concept for both children and parents to grasp. On the one hand, parents often spend quite a bit of time reinforcing the notion that mommy or daddy is 'always right'. On the other, we undoubtedly want our children to understand the world around them with an inquisitive nature. A recommended way to ease a child into this type of thinking is by pointing things out (such as geometric shapes) and mentioning that a certain shape may be able to be classified as another type of shape but not others (in the case of a geometric shape, that not all squares are rectangles, but all diamonds are squares, for instance). This will help them to question absolutes and be inherently skeptical when told that things are 'always' a certain way.
Encourage Socratic dialogue
The Socratic dialogue involves giving someone a stance to argue on a topic and having someone else play devil's advocate. You then have the two parties to the discussion switch roles and repeat the exercise. It was developed in the writings of Plato to help contemporaries and students of Plato strengthen their reasoning and oratory skills. How it helps your child is by forcing them to try and understand a stance that they may have never thought about before and may not even agree with. It also helps them listen and find flaws in the reasoning of another person's opinion based on the reasoning they provide, rather than the child's opinion. Obviously, this is a somewhat higher-level learning activity and may be best suited for children that are older (typically their early teens) and further along in their reasoning skills. It is also important to let the child understand that they may lack the life experience necessary to form a hole-proof stance on a subject.
It is important to remember that positive reinforcement is helpful in any learning activity involving your child. Remember to think about whether or not some of their answers really are wrong to them and why. Be positive when explaining your correction to them and try and allow them as much time as they need to understand why something is.
Critical thinking can prove to be a useful life-long skill. Reasoning, especially, is something that can be learned and strengthened throughout a person's life. Starting in early adolescence can give your child a head-start on some of the foundational skills that allow them to grow into inquisitive, intellectual, and logical adults.
Bernard Clark is the Marketing Director for Brusilow & Associates. a court reporting agency located in Philadelphia, PA. Bernie was motivated to do research on critical thinking when he recently became a father after long having been surrounded by attorneys (who can be some of the most critical thinkers you'd meet).