Education has evolved from teaching the 3R’s to a more holistic 21st Century model. This includes the 4C’s of Learning and Innovation Skills: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration. Let’s look at critical thinking.
Today, data is literally at our fingertips. Gone is the educational focus on memorization. Today’s teens need to be able to access and process this data. To think critically, they must be able to conceptualize, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information.
Simulations provide an excellent way to move to critical thinking. When learning can be based around solving a problem, students automatically tap into higher level cognition. Adding the group component, students get the added practice of addressing social constraints and find ways to blend perspectives and varying priorities. Excellent experience that transfers directly into the “real world!”
What sort of classroom provides this experience? One that fosters open-ended questions. One that encourages independent cognitive development. One where the teacher is guide, not leader, in the learning process. One that challenges students to explore why they believe what they do. One that creates a safe place to respectfully disagree, change one’s mind, or try and fail.
Outside of the classroom, we can foster critical thinking in ourselves and teens by suspending judgment. Instead of a snap opinion, how would it feel to step back and become an observer? To keep our minds open with a thought such as, “Hmmm…this is interesting. I wonder what is behind this situation?”
Let’s challenge ourselves to think about what and how we think and s-t-r-e-t-c-h to new ways of knowing. Critical thinking is an important skill for everyone to continue to develop!