You are what you think. That's right. Whatever you are doing right now, whatever you feel, whatever you want - all are determined by the quality of your thinking. If your thinking is unrealistic, your thinking will lead to many disappointments. If your thinking is overly pessimistic, it will deny you due recognition of the many things in which you should properly rejoice. For most people, most of their thinking is subconscious, that is, never explicitly put into words. The problem is that when you are not aware of your thinking you have no chance of “correcting” it. When thinking is subconscious, you are in no position to see any problems in it. And, if you don't see any problems in it, you won't be motivated to change it.
When we are thinking of a classroom context, critical thinking is thinking that assesses itself. To the extent that our students need us to tell them how well they are doing, they are not thinking critically. Didactic instruction makes students overly dependent on the teacher. In such instruction, students rarely develop any perceptible intellectual independence and typically have no intellectual standards to assess their thinking with. Instruction that fosters a disciplined, thinking mind, on the other hand, is 180 degrees in the opposite direction.
Each step in the process of thinking critically is tied to a self-reflexive step of self-assessment. As a critical thinker, I do not simply state the problem; I state it and assess it for its clarity. I do not simply gather information; I gather it and check it for its relevance and significance. I do not simply form an interpretation; I check my interpretation to see what it is based on and whether that basis is adequate.
Because of the importance of self-assessment to critical thinking, it is important to bring it into the structural design of the class and not just leave it to episodic tactics. Virtually every day, for example, students should be giving (to their pairs) and receiving feedback on the quality of their work. They should be regularly using intellectual standards in an explicit way.
The following wheel shows a procedure sequence that will allow you to engage your students in thinking critically:
The following verb wheel shows a whole set of activities we can get our students to do in class, based on Bloom's Taxonomy:
|Credits: critical & creative thinking|