Critical thinking can be defined as the ability to draw a logical conclusionfrom what is known, and the ability to make use of information to solveproblems, and to seek relevant sources of information to inform oneself.
The importance of critical thinking in education goes beyondteaching memorization but gives students the tools tounderstand and apply the knowledge they have learnedthrough classroom instruction. It teaches students to analyzeproblems in order discover an underlying issue or alternativesolution.“Critical thinking isnt just an academic skill, its a skill used by highlysuccessful business leaders every day to solve problems, ask questions,and make decisions. The research behind critical thinking is rock solid.”
How do we apply critical thinking to21st century education?In today’s world a sound and effective education is only achievedthrough teaching our students how to be critical thinkers. For us toeffectively teach these skills we must first understand them ourselves….. after all, we can’t teach what we don’t know. There are six criticalthinking skills that are imperative;Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, andEvaluation.The table illustrates how you can apply these skills by questioningand organizing information.
In high school my science teacher assigned the classa bridge building project. The only materials wewere allowed to use to construct the bridge werepaper, glue, and drinking straws. We received aletter grade for the project but there was an extracredit bonus for the team whose bridge withstoodthe most weight. Of course the majority of the classsimply wrapped the paper around the straws anddrenched them in Elmer’s glue, some tried to buildtruss bridges and some simply didn’t do the project.One by one our bridges were put to the test andmiserably failed. One group however came in withwhat looked like a wooden board as their bridge. Itturns out they build a mold out of tin foil and useda blender to emulsify the glue and paper. Once theconsistency was what they wanted they poured themixture into the mold and placed the straws insidelike rebar. They baked their creation and once it wascomplete it was hard as a rock. When it was theirturn to be put to the test their bridge wasundisputed winner holding more than 60 lbs.
Connecting Technology and Critical ThinkingHarnessing a students natural inquisitiveness through the use oftechnology fosters critical thinking. Allowing students to usecomputers to research questions promotes “higher order intellectualabilities,” as well as “gives the brain a good diet of visual learningand thought provoking.”“One big key may be very simple: We must pose questionsthat intrigue and fascinate, fundamental questions, "big"questions, questions that lie at the heart of our disciplines.”