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How could we set up lessons to best educate for critical thinking? 

Understanding the Importance of Critical Thinking in Education

Critical thinking has become a very crucial aspect of learning in education. It contributes to increased cognitive development in an individual by helping them develop their judgments, evaluation of different situations as well as assisting them to improve on their problem-solving abilities. Most teachers use the traditional methods which involved the use of arts to help children develop critical thinking skills and especially the kindergarten children (O'Flaherty & Phillips, 2015). However, there is an increasing concern to improve the teaching of critical thinking skills in education in the modern education system as a result of increased interest on the importance of critical thinking skills in not only in higher learning but also in making critical decisions in life. After understanding the role of teachers in developing student’s critical thinking skills, this essay will focus on the understanding of how we could set up lessons to best educate for critical thinking among students in schools.

Different teachers use different strategies in their classrooms to enhance their teaching skill and especially in teaching critical thinking among students.  This helps them to organize their lessons in a particular manner to help them attain a specific objective which in this case is to develop critical thinking skills (Savery, 2015). It is essential for every student to possess the vital skills in thinking but is more important also for them to understand the capabilities and how best and when to apply them. As a result of this need, teachers are required to develop their lessons in the classroom or develop their teaching skills for critical thinking through adoption and application of appropriate strategies. How best we step up the lessons contributes to how best the teachers can educate or teach their students critical thinking skills (Pithers & Soden, 2014). Preparation should not start therefore in class, but the teachers should have it in their, mind what they need to achieve and hence prepare for each lesson. This will help in setting the mood and the classroom atmosphere in a manner that facilitates the teaching of critical thinking.

One of the most critical methods of setting up a lesson to teach or educate for critical thinking by the teacher understands how he or she is supposed to help the student. It is therefore essential that the teacher during any lesson, not to jump or immediately rush to answering every question that arises from the children or the students (Davies, 2015). When a student asks an issue in the classroom or even outside classroom context, it presents an opportunity to the teachers to help them develop critical thinking skills. At this instance, the teachers should learn on how to help students to arrive at the answers to their questions through critical thinking. The teachers during the lessons should learn on how to tell students “ let us think about how well we can find a solution to your question?”, Instead of jumping to answer or provide a solution to their questions. This will help the students or the children to think around the problem, and the teacher will assist them in getting the best answers to their questions or arriving at a solution (Goetsch & Davis, 2014). Developing such a strategy helps the students to always think about an issue and try by themselves to find a solution or answer without necessarily asking for help from their teachers. Building such a foundation for critical thinking is essential in the development of critical cognitive skills in thinking and will determine how best the students will perform in their higher learning where there are limited interactions between the tutors and the students.

Approaches to Setting Up Lessons for Critical Thinking

It is also critical to develop a strategy of using the new language in a different context during the teaching. The use of modern literature in which the teacher requires the students to come up with the meaning of the word and apply it in a different context is essential in critical thinking development. Development of lessons guided by the understanding new language context in every topic or chapter of study helps students develop their critical thinking in the very essay but effective manner (Parkay, Anctil & Hass, 2014). When such a skill is developed among students, they become instrumental problem solvers in the society. It is also critical that the teachers organize their lessons in a way that contributes to wondering around or brainstorming before everything a student does. It is vital for the students regardless of what the subject they may be taking in the classroom to develop an understanding of why they are learning or reading a particular topic. To develop these abilities, the teachers have to establish a question strategy where they ask the students different questions before they begin their lessons (Ghanizadeh, 2017). For instance, the teacher may ask the students about what they think the topic of study will be about or what they think they would be able to learn at the end of the issue. Such a strategy helps the students to think ahead and develop a mental picture of what they expect to gain or learn from the topic. By responding to the questions, the teacher may understand their perspective and helps them in developing critical thinking skills.

Another very effective strategy to set up lessons and educate students for critical thinking is through classification and categorizing of different words and their meaning according to a different context. Classification of words during an experience plays a crucial role in the development of critical thinking because it requires the students to understand the different words of topics they have learned and apply specific rules provided by their tutors (Sharples et al., 2017). For instance, the teacher may ask the students to use particular knowledge or words and apply them at a specific context. Practical application through classification and categorization will help them in developing their critical thinking skills. Another essential strategy in the development of critical thinking in setting up a lesson is through compare and contrast strategy (Tiruneh, Verburgh, & Elen, 2014). The approach helps the students to compare and contrast the use of different contextual language appropriately. The teachers may help the students examine how different words have been used in different context and differ their meaning in each situation or context. This helps the students in understanding that different words can be applied or used in different context to bring about different purposes and hence contribute to the enhancement of their critical thinking skills as well as their cognitive development.

However in, my experience, I believe making the students develop connections with the subjects of the topics they are learning in class is the best strategy to set up for lessons and educate students for critical thinking. It is vital for the teacher to create environments where the students will be able to make a connection on what they have learned to their personal experiences (Broadbent & Poon, 2015). The teachers may ask them to evaluate on how they can relate the subject to different situations or experiences in their life. This provides an opportunity through the use of questions for the teachers to enhance their teaching skills as well as provide an opportunity for the students to offer their opinions on a particular subject. Making a connecting with life experiences provides the students with a chance to apply what they have learned in the different topics. It is how well the students can make these connections or apply their critical thinking skills that determine how effective the teaching was or how the teachers were able to teach the students for critical thinking (Fraser, 2015). Effective judgment making is a factor of essential skills of development and relies on the ability of the individual to apply these skills in problem-solving as well as in decision making.

Questioning Techniques for Developing Critical Thinking Skills

To effectively set up lessons to best educate for critical thinking, it is important for the teachers to provide the students in the classroom with group opportunities. The readings should be developed in a manner that facilitates opportunities for students to engage in group work or activities by assigning them different tasks to be done through group discussion. Group thinking is very critical in the development of critical thinking skills amongst students. In most cases not, all students are active in class and, the teacher may lack the opportunity to engage each and every student. However doing group activities each,h student has a chance to participate in activities aimed at improving problem-solving skills and development of critical thinking (Martyn, Terwijn, Kek & Huijser, 2014). The teacher has an opportunity to provide the groups with activities or questions which will help them develop critical thinking and therefore the development of different groups will be instrumental in educating for critical thinking. It also provides an opportunity for the students to understand the different perspectives different students which widen their understanding of the subject under discussion.

In conclusion, different strategies and techniques can be employed in setting up lessons by teachers to educate for critical thinking. However, the teaching or the educating approach should not only be focused in helping the students gain the essential skills of thinking but most important in assisting them to understand how best they can apply the skills in different context. The development of these skills will, therefore, contribute to the enhancement of critical thinking development among students and help them in their future development within and outside their classroom experiences.

References:

Broadbent, J., & Poon, W. L. (2015). Self-regulated learning strategies & academic achievement in online higher education learning environments: A systematic review. The Internet and Higher Education, 27, 1-13.

Davies, M. (2015). A model of critical thinking in higher education. In Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (pp. 41-92). Springer, Cham.

Fraser, B. (2015). Classroom learning environments. In Encyclopedia of Science Education (pp. 154-157). Springer, Dordrecht.

Ghanizadeh, A. (2017). The interplay between reflective thinking, critical thinking, self-monitoring, and academic achievement in higher education. Higher Education, 74(1), 101-114.

Goetsch, D. L., & Davis, S. B. (2014). Quality management for organizational excellence. Upper Saddle River, NJ: pearson.

Martyn, J., Terwijn, R., Kek, M. Y., & Huijser, H. (2014). Exploring the relationships between teaching, approaches to learning and critical thinking in a problem-based learning foundation nursing course. Nurse education today, 34(5), 829-835.

O'Flaherty, J., & Phillips, C. (2015). The use of flipped classrooms in higher education: A scoping review. The internet and higher education, 25, 85-95.

Parkay, F. W., Anctil, E. J., & Hass, G. (2014). Curriculum leadership: Readings for developing quality educational programs. Prentice Hall.

Pithers, R. T., & Soden, R. (2014). Critical thinking in education: A review. Educational research, 42(3), 237-249.

Savery, J. R. (2015). Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. Essential readings in problem-based learning: Exploring and extending the legacy of Howard S. Barrows, 9, 5-15.

Sharples, J. M., Oxman, A. D., Mahtani, K. R., Chalmers, I., Oliver, S., Collins, K., ... & Hoffmann, T. (2017). Critical thinking in healthcare and education. BMJ, 357, j2234.

Tiruneh, D. T., Verburgh, A., & Elen, J. (2014). Effectiveness of critical thinking instruction in higher education: A systematic review of intervention studies. Higher Education Studies, 4(1), 1-17.

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