One of the most important elements of my classes is teaching kids HOW to think rather than WHAT to think. Actually, I am simply helping them to remember how to do this, as thinking is the natural human state. From infancy we ask WHY and HOW – until someone tells us to stop or asks us to memorise WHAT, WHERE, and WHO.
Critical thinking is central to the development of nuanced thinkers who can challenge established ideas and norms. So, how do we encourage our thinkers to analyse and question?
Here are four of tools I often refer back to:
One: Let questions be asked! Asking powerful questions is the first step to critical analysis and one must practice asking questions to get good at it. So, let questions be asked! When thinkers find their curiosity welcomed, they will grow in confidence and begin to ask more questions. Questions can then become more nuanced and challenging.
Two: Don’t answer every question immediately. Sometimes questions are in asked to create space for reflection. Ponder with your thinker. Let a question be a call to think rather than a request for immediate data – this is particularly important in the era of Siri and Google, where immediate gratification is the norm.
Three: Wait! This also applies when you ask question. Silence can feel overwhelming but it needs to be embraced. Thirty seconds can feel like a week when a question is not answered, but it really is less than a minute. And we all need the time to think, to process, to verbalise, to build up the confidence to state a risky answer. So when you ask a question, be ready and willing to wait for an answer.
Four: Accept errors. There are times to correct mistakes, there are times to let them walk away and be found by your thinker another day. Finding out one’s own mistakes is far more empowering than being told. Sometimes we have to trust our thinkers and their learning process enough to let them find their own way out of an error. Allowing others to learn is surprisingly difficult at times when we want to protect and guide.
Try these with your thinkers and let me know what you find. I will come back with more suggested tools and tips soon.