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A person who thinks critically asks questions about nature and attempts to find answers. Thinking critically does not mean just being critical, but the the ability to probe and examine a subject open-mindedly and from many points of view.
Once we understand the value of these kinds of thought processes, we can incorporate them into our homeschool agenda.
Critical thinking skills are vital. Those who can employ critical thinking are better problem solvers, better equipped to understand how and why things work, and better at presenting and defending a logical argument not only in science but in nearly every field of study.
It is only natural, then, to teach critical thinking skills in home school, but what kinds of activities teach critical thinking skills? First, we have to determine just what is this thing we call critical thinking.
These four thought processes are considered to be higher order thinking, and when they are used together, they become problem solving methods.
Lets examine the four thought processes and then discuss problem solving methods in a bit more detail. During analysis, the thinker will try to break down ideas to determine an underlying pattern.
Another example would be checking over test answers to find a pattern revealing a weak understanding in a particular area or subject mastery in another. In reality, these analyses are what a good teacher does with every test or paper.
Similarly, a scientist will look over data to see if she can determine patterns which would explain the data.
Analysis is often the first higher order thought process applied to solve a problem. Synthesis is another higher order of thought. When a person uses synthesis, he or she is combining ideas to get a larger idea or concept.
In the case of a major weather event, scientists often attempt to determine if there is a pattern to the weather system which can be predicted based upon signs like temperatures or barometric pressure patterns.
A common example of synthesis is the combination of high strength of steel with the flexibility of thin strands to make a steel cable for a suspension bridge. When a new idea emerges from a body of current knowledge, synthesis is at work.
Evaluation is the thought process whereby we try to decide whether an explanation is true. In school, we teach the children to evaluate their own work and they gradually begin to judge the work of others. Another use of evaluation is deciding if a conclusion is justified, or correct, or true.
When writing up an experiment, the student is asked to write a conclusion: The student may have used analysis and synthesis to reach the conclusion, but at some point the student will have to decide that it is a good and satisfactory explanation.
Involving you children in this activity is a great way to practice higher order thinking. Training a child to ask himself these questions is the goal of a good teacher. A person who is curious about the universe is one who will learn easily.
This skill is really two-fold: Both of these can be learned and practiced. Techniques for Problem Solving Problem solving is a way we can practice critical thinking. Two principle ways of problem solving are the scientific method and the engineering method. The scientific method allows a scientist to determine what factors may be affecting a system.
By eliminating all but one factors, the scientist can then vary that one factor and measure its effect. Norman Edmund, founder of Edmund Scientific has written a wonderful book which details the many parts of the scientific method. Really a book about critical thinking, The General Pattern of the Scientific Method is valuable to every student.
The engineering method, like the scientific method, is systematic, but it is usually applied in concrete rather than theoretical situations. When a person uses the engineering method, she attempts to solve a very specific problem using the materials at hand.
First, she will carefully define the problem in order to understand exactly what she needs to do. Then she will brainstorm ideas to determine many possible methods to overcome the problem.
Next, she will weigh those ideas to determine the best one for the situation.Additionally, critical thinking can be divided into the following three core skills: Curiosity is the desire to learn more information and seek evidence as well as being open to new ideas.
For Science instruction, we recommend the following materials, most of which focus on the foundations of critical thinking, and which will need to be contextualized for science education. This bundle includes the Thinker’s Guide to Scientific Thinking.
Developing Critical Thinking through Science presents standards-based, hands-on, minds-on activities that help students learn basic physical science principles and the scientific method of investigation. Each activity is a to minute guided expe. The skills that underpin science should be better incorporated into the rest of the curriculum.
Thinking image from initiativeblog.com The students with critical thinking training showed greater improvement in their analytical skills, and not just for biology problems.
The kids trained in critical thinking also did a better job solving everyday problems (Zohar et al ). Generalizable critical thinking skills and dispositions should guide professional reasoning through complex engineering questions and issues, whether technological, commercial, environmental, ethical, or .