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Can critical thinking be taught in the classroom

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Ellen Weinstein Advertisement A democracy relies on an electorate of critical thinkers. Yet formal education, which is driven by test taking, is increasingly failing to require students to ask the kind of questions that lead to informed decisions.

  • For that, we have a robust informal learning system that eschews grades, takes all comers, and is available even on holidays and weekends;
  • Informal learning environments tolerate failure better than schools;
  • Bransford and Daniel L.

More than a decade ago cognitive scientists John D. Bransford and Daniel L.

  • The college students had cultivated the ability to ask questions, the cornerstone of critical thinking;
  • On this task, they found large differences.

Shockingly, the two groups came up with plans of similar quality although the college students had better spelling skills. From the standpoint of a traditional educator, this outcome indicated that schooling had failed to help students think about ecosystems and extinction, major scientific ideas. The researchers decided to delve deeper, however. They asked both groups to generate questions about important issues needed to create recovery plans.

On this task, they found large differences. The college students had cultivated the ability to ask questions, the cornerstone of critical thinking. They had learned how to learn.

Can Thinking be Taught? Linking Critical Thinking and Writing in an EFL Context

Museums and other institutions of informal learning may be better suited to teach this skill than elementary and secondary schools. At the Exploratorium in San Francisco, we recently studied how learning to ask good questions can affect the quality of people's scientific inquiry.

Specifically, their questions became more comprehensive at the new exhibit. Asking juicy questions appears to be a transferable skill for deepening collaborative inquiry into the science content found in exhibits.

  1. This type of learning is not confined to museums or institutional settings.
  2. The researchers decided to delve deeper, however. This type of learning is not confined to museums or institutional settings.
  3. Perhaps many teachers have too little time to allow students to form and pursue their own questions and too much ground to cover in the curriculum and for standardized tests. At the Exploratorium in San Francisco, we recently studied how learning to ask good questions can affect the quality of people's scientific inquiry.

This type of learning is not confined to museums or institutional settings. One of the best examples is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in which the eponymous host expertly shreds political, commercial and scientific-sounding claims in the press by using numbers, logic and old video. The Maker Faire, which conducts techie do-it-yourself projects, has reintroduced the idea that our learning is richer for our mistakes: Informal learning environments tolerate failure better than schools.

Perhaps many teachers have too little time to allow students to form and pursue their own questions and too much ground to cover in the curriculum and for standardized tests.

But people must acquire this skill somewhere. Our society depends on them being able to make critical decisions, about their own medical treatment, say, or what we must do about global energy needs and demands. For that, we have a robust informal learning system that eschews grades, takes all comers, and is available even on holidays and weekends.

Critical Thinking Is Best Taught Outside the Classroom

This article was originally published with the title "What Is Your Question?