Critical thinking is an intellectually discipline that uses a process of analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information. Critical thinking skills are life-long endeavors that do not stop in classrooms. It is a skill that transcends scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, emphatically they become flexible thinkers, creators. In this rapidly changing information age, the proliferation of accessible data has created a vital requirement for individuals to be information literate; it will be these people who are able to critically sift through and evaluate the mass amount of information at their fingertips whom will be the most successful.
Teaching our children how to create and build these skills enables increased performance in school and everyday life, and in their future. Skills related to an overall ability for critical thinking have been identified. These are:
- Finding analogies and other kinds of relationships between pieces of information
- Determining the relevance and validity of information that could be used for structuring and solving problems
- Finding and evaluating solutions or alternative ways of treating problem
Children need numerous opportunities to practice critical thinking—for instance, by identifying flaws in characters in books, evaluating the quality and usefulness of scientific findings, and using evidence and logic to support their particular viewpoints.
One was is to ask questions such as these to encourage critical thinking while reading mysteries at your child’s comprehension level:
What additional information do we need to solve the mystery?
What information is relevant to this situation? What information is irrelevant?
What persuasive technique is the author using? Is it valid, or is it designed to mislead the reader?
What clues support the conclusion? What clues do not support the conclusion?
What in this book might you change to improve the mystery?
Most important teach your child how to ask you good questions about mysteries you read; it will help them learn to think critically. When you give your child the opportunity to practice asking good questions, they will start to assume more responsibility for determining what they need to be understood and for directing their own learning processes.
And last, discuss current news at the dinner table:
Have children debate controversial issues from several perspectives, and occasionally ask them to take a perspective quite different from their own. Help children understand that critical thinking involves considerable mental effort but that its benefits make the effort worthwhile.
Embedding critical thinking skills within the context of authentic activities, such as evening dinner discussion, and reading is a way of helping children retrieve those skills later on, both in the workplace and in other aspects of adult life.