Thursday, January 20, 2005

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Critical thinking and Problem-Solving are important topics for everyone. All of us are faced with problems every day- and our ability to come up with alternative solutions, viewpoints, or possibilities may mean the difference between success or failure in learning, human relationships, practical living, and life's work.

So what is critical thinking and problem solving, really? Critical thinking involves looking at how we think with a critical and questioning eye. At its best, its an ideal Creative-Corporation, a marriage of "Suits" (Executive-CEO)and "Talent" (Creativity Director)- oriented to the bottom-line and goal-directed, but open to different possibilities and forming new solutions. Success in critical thinking and problem-solving requires skill at identifying problems, thinking about thinking, looking at limitations, generating new possibilities, and testing and analyzing outcome.

At the simplest level, children get practice with problem solving when they need to make choices. They practice with critical thinking when they look at their own work (or the work of others), and notice differences and form opinions. At highest levels, gifted critical thinkers and problem solvers take full advantage of all their brain resources: increasing their sensitivity and awareness of new ideas or facts, finding patterns through various modes of observing or thinking, combining different ideas, prioritizing and tossing out ideas, arriving at cohesive answers or theories, and critiquing results.

In every educational program, we need to find a way of providing opportunities for practice and strengthening of these steps. For some children with disabilities, a great deal of time needs to be spent scaffolding problem solving and choices, and providing practice in the process of decision-making. Some children appear to be intuitive problem-solvers, but others will need direct examples from others, scaffolding from their teachers, and step-by-step instruction.

Below are various critical thinking resources(including lesson plans) on the web. Also one old favorite for problem solving, we'd share with you- James Adam's Conceptual Blockbusting. Gets the gray matter firing overtime!

ICYouSee: T is for Thinking
Changing minds and persuasion -- How we change what others think, believe, feel and do
PESTS: Teaching Activities

BBC NEWS | Education | Learning to think the right way

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