Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Importance of Critical Thinking Skills

I have been doing some exercises on critical thinking with Reese and I find them fun and really challenge Reese to think. It is so unlike other subjects that I am doing with him. He enjoys the stimulating activities very much. Books that I use with him can be found in my previous post.

What I want to highlight is that I strongly believe that critical thinking skills should be taught right from young. Previously it was believed that children under five are incapable of rational thinking or of beginning their education but now, it is widely accepted that young children are fully capable of learning the basic before kindergarten.

There is a limit to what we can teach our children but if we equip them with critical thinking skills, their knowledge is limitless! If you think about it, our success in life is in direct proportion to how we solve problems and make decisions.

Sad to say, our education system is very much memorization and exam oriented. It does not allow the flexibility of thinking out of the box! If you look the kind of students our education system is churning out.... they lack the ability to think analytically.

Examples, in Math - Students have problem doing word problems not because they do not know math but they fail to comprehend the problem well enough to see the math problem. Higher level math requires several thinking skills like deductive reasoning, classification, identifying sequence and many more. Have you ever wonder why some children reads well but fail to comprehend what they read? Reading comprehension is all about the depth of analysis. Children with poor thinking skills have poor reading comprehension skills.

Nurturing Critical Thinking at Home

One way to do so is to ask questions that lack a single correct answer, and ask them casually, rather than quizzing your child. The personality and interests of children are the keys in interacting with them and addressing critical thinking at home. If interacting aloud is not appealing, take a less direct route by observing your child at play, with others or alone, and determine the level of complexity he or she shows during these activities. Listening to your child and gauging how he or she makes sense of the world will enable you to understand what critical-thinking skills your child uses and whether your intervention is needed at home to extend his or her level of thinking.

Get some fun critical activity books to do with the child. Look up the internet for some fun brain teasers to play! Invest in some puzzles and building blocks. When they watch cartoon that interacts with them, you might want to watch with them because some of these cartoons don't really encourage critical thinking but conformist thinking! For example, my son loves watching Mickey Mouse Club House. Each episode will have some problems to solve right? There was one episode that talks about putting an item into the right box. The child was given 3 boxes to choose from(smaller than the item, just the right size for the item and bigger than the item). Obviously Mickey wants the child to choose a box that was just the right size for the item but hey, if we think properly, the item can be put into 2 of the boxes! The box that was just the right size and the bigger box! Right? That's conformist thinking!

You know, I have been hunting for critical thinking related books for young children in bookstores and yet found nothing. So sad. I did find one place that sell a few of these books but they are expensive. University Book Store in P.J. Opposite Jaya One. They sell books imported from U.K and U.S. They cater mostly to students going to international schools.

Do you know Singapore math books do incorporate critical thinking in their math. If you want to teach your child math, instead of using local books, try using the Singapore math books. The text books are colorful and easy to understand. Only thing is, they are in English. I feel so sad with our Government reverting the teaching of Science and Math to B.M. *sigh*

Hope this article helps! :) I am still learning!

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