Since 1940-50 researchers and teachers have been actively discussing the role of critical thinking in education. Interpretation of critical thinking has been slightly changed during the last decade. Critical thinking represents analysis of facts, arrangement of ideas, comparing, making conclusions and problem solving skills; it is as well a way of thinking, demanding reasoning of person’s opinions and firmness of his views until the opposing opinion is not grounded.
Students will have to rely on problem solving skills in the future. Rapid development of technologic and information field introduces dramatic changes into the life and work. Society has increased need to obtain information, apprehend it, analyze and share. In our century work is particularly synonym for solving problems. We are required to have multilateral education and be scholarly, which of course means self-regulation and monitoring, analyze and evaluation, thus everything, which refers to one major concept – thinking.
How can we facilitate development of critical thinking in students? A direction aiming at studying thinking separately was established in the USA in 1980’s. Special subjects, programs and corresponding materials have been created on the basis of these views. Recently conducted researches demonstrate that skills of thinking are not automatically transferred into important academic subjects. Theory of critical thinking is less effective when taught independently apart from other subjects. It is important that critical thinking is a component integrated into the curriculum to be studied during the lesson.
Teacher has a special important role in the process of development of critical thinking and problem solving skills in pupils of elementary school. The main challenge for teachers is to “transfer” this important aim into activity, corresponding to development of student. This aim may seem quite difficult to achieve, however, in most cases it requires introduction of minor changes into existing approach. On a daily basis teachers may create such environment, in which students will be able to identify working material, analyze different features reveal similarities and differences. Also, teachers may allocate time and space for brain storming or elaboration and checking of plans.
We introduce you to the ways, by means of which teacher will help minor children to work on quizzes and lean on the basis of made discoveries. Modern quiz maker software enables testing process to instead of providing students with answers, present even an easy question as a problem, which they have to solve by themselves. Children of young age get easily irritated if, for example they haven’t found a seat, pencil they like, or tore a note-book. It is easy for us to tell them “take that seat”, “here is red pencil”, “take a glue and stick”, but it is more reasonable to answer then in a following way “Well, let us think how can we solve this problem?”.
Let’s give the student an opportunity to express his opinion, try his own strategy, notwithstanding despite if the teacher thinks this to be the best way for solving the problem or not. Problem solving plan may not be valid but it is important for us to remember that in general students are proud of their attempts to solve problems. You should always found time for brainstorming. Before you read any book take some time to speak about its cover and give children opportunity to discuss it. Attract their attention to the situation depicted on the cover and heroes. If the cover depicts scenery, ask children what can be the book be about. Give students the opportunity to make a list of events, heroes, articles, they make meet in the book. Write down their answers and lately get back to them. On the assumption of the fact that at this age discussion is generally held aloud, it would be desirable to watch development of students by notes. Take into consideration key words of the book and include then into quiz maker software, which may help student to pass the test. The questions should include such important moments, which children must remember only by logic thinking.
Compare and oppose events and subjects. Discuss with children how to use these subjects, what do they have in common, what makes them different. Compare sizes, forms, colors, taste of different subjects. Compare yesterday’s and today’s weather, compare two words by amount of letters and syllables, first and last letters, or by meaning. Encourage children to pay attention to details and think about their meaning.
Prepare entertaining quizzes. Give students task to choose one excess items out of three different ones. For example, to choose excess item from ruler, ball and bar of chocolate, which do not fit into category of other subjects. Some may choose chocolate bar, because it may be eaten unlike other items. Other students may choose ball as it is round. Both answers are right and ask children additionally why they chose this answer. You may mention one or many answers while preparing test in quiz maker software by adding Multiple Choice Question (where only one answer is correct) or Multiple Answers Question (where several answer may be correct).
Critical thinking is important in the process of studying question as well, as it facilitates apprehension if read material and leaning of the story. Ask children to look at a hero in a different way and tell the story from different point of view. Transmission of information in written form represents important potential for people with critical thinking as well. The result is more obvious and memorable when students use writing for solving problems and achieving results.
Help students to remember and analyze what they have already known about the given topic. Assist them to create certain context by speaking and writing tasks in order to apprehend new information and sharing opinions with others.
Manage students in the process of studying. Help them to use different sources of information in order to interpret events and make arguments. Teach and help students to ascertain validity of the source of information. You should explain them that there is no single and accurate source. By obtaining information from different sources students will discover that all information frequently is controversial and mutually exclusive.
The teacher should apprehend importance of thinking skills and should assist its development since the beginning of first years at school. At the primary stage the student have skills to express complicated opinions, which in most of cases exceed teacher’s expectation. It is preconditioned mainly by the fact that at an early age children are less restricted by previously formed opinions, are more open to perception of the world and most of them sincerely believe that everything is possible.