My Own Complex Thinking
I always question author bias in my reading and news sources. Considering who the source is makes me think about perspective and partiality. For example, when I was waiting for a free shuttle bus to my destination, a taxi driver pulled up and asked where I needed to go. I said I was waiting for the bus, to which he replied the bus wasn’t running today. I reasoned that the driver would have a fare to gain if I believed him. It was possible he was only being kind and didn’t want me to wait unnecessarily, but taxi drivers hadn’t shown such consideration in the past. I waved the driver on and it was only a matter of moments before the free shuttle bus turned up.
Assessing my preconceptions is another way I frame my thinking in a more complex way. Thinking about Google searches, the way I type my search phrase reveals a lot. For example, ‘yogurt nutritional value’ yields significantly different results than ‘is yogurt bad for you’. Awareness of my own biases helps me seek more holistic information.
My Students’ Complex Thinking
Below is a brainstorming (critical thinking!!) exercise I did about how to promote critical thinking in children. Starred items are those techniques I currently use in the classroom. The others listed are ones I want to use in the future.
Promoting Critical Thinking:
*Praise, reward creativity
*Ask children if what they’re seeing makes sense with what they’re saying
*Brainstorm alternatives solutions to a problem
Encourage students to ‘teach the teacher’ – student walks you through the process (e.g. teaches you how to read a word.)
Frequently ask students their opinion and why it is so. What makes you think that?
*Ask questions that encourage inferences (e.g. the picture looks like a butterfly but the sound cue is /m/. What is similar to a butterfly that starts with /m/? Moth.)
Ask children to predict what will happen next
*Compare and contrast – describe similarities and differences between objects, ideas
*Encourage imaginative play
Use word play and riddles
*Modeling – good and bad examples
I love this list of imaginative questions. They would be a fantastic way to have a ‘brain break’ after a lesson and get kids thinking abstractly.