Is Teaching Critical Thinking The Most Important (And Most Under-Taught) Skill At School? #SlowChatEd

I sometimes think that my school indulges my madness too easily. A few years ago, I suggested that we offer Chess as an Option subject for our Grade 8s and 9s. I firmly believe that the lessons chess has to teach about structured, consequential thinking, pattern recognition and even creativity make it a crucial subject at any school. This year, I wangled a couple of periods for a Thinking Skills class for the Grade 8s. The intention was to teach critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving and metacognition.

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  1. Of course any kind of mental process that produces an original result (thinking) is the purpose of good education. However I am with my old history teacher on this one: “You only get instruction in class, education is what you get outside of these walls.”
    Increasingly teachers spend most of their time and energy filling in the gaps left by primary schools and simply maintaining a semblance of order.

    1. That could be the worst quote I ever read! Education is what you get every time you understand something new. No matter where you are. I am not an instructor I am an educator.

  2. Michael Shermer and Goldacre are two resources I use to “teach” critical thinking in the context of Life Science. I panic when I see dedicated lessons to critical thinking as I worry that isolates the concept to “cool, its Mr Hampton-Cole’s class today” and the skills learned in such a class are not carried over into all the other learning. Critical thinking, problem solving, skeptical thinking are the same skills needed to analyse and HIV graph, play Plague.Inc and appreciate a poem. Isolating them to one lesson a week is a start…but often that is as far as it goes.

    Perhaps the plan should be a week long course for all staff, including sports coaches as critical thinking is modeled more than taught.

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