Teaching children to think critically can be incredibly challenging yet rewarding.

Critical thinking is a versatile tool no matter which career path your students may pursue, so it’s well worth the time, resources, and effort. To think critically isn’t just scrutinizing every little fact you come across – it’s far deeper and more intricate than that.

It encourages thinking with rationale and independence to create your own opinions based on a selection of facts given, irrelevant to external influences. To effectively teach your students how to think critically, you must discipline them into the natural mindset of analyzing viewpoints, statistics, opinions, and arguments.

Here are six tips and techniques you can use to teach critical thinking to your students:

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1. Begin with a solid foundation

Before you get started with any other critical thinking lessons, it’s essential that your students first understand the following:

  • What critical thinking is
  • Why it’s important
  • How can it be utilized in their everyday lives

Setting a research task in the lesson or as homework will encourage students to find these things out – and you can make it as creative as you like. It will also help you discover any misconceptions the students may have about critical thinking, which you can challenge in a later lesson.

2. Challenge misconceptions

Challenging misconceptions is meant in two ways:

  1. Firstly, as mentioned previously, set straight any qualms your students have about critical thinking and why they should be studying it, this will create a positive learning environment.
  2. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, you should aim to set frequent tasks surrounding a selection of data, recent news stories, or a widely held opinion. Get your students to identify flaws within these, as well as biases, opinions, and other influences on the objective truth.

3. Start a debate

One of the most effective ways to get students to learn about the importance of viewpoints is to split them into opposing sides and form a debate. The students don’t have to agree with the side they’re on – they’re learning about objectivity, after all.

It’s also a great way for students to learn about taking turns and respecting one another.

4. Role-play

Similar to starting a debate, role-playing is a creative and active way to teach critical thinking. Create a scenario and appoint students as characters to argue out their viewpoints. The rest of the class can assemble all the information and conclude. This is an engaging way to get your students invested in critical thinking.

5. Allow longer to answer a question

Typical classroom environments need a fast pace to pass the syllabus in time.

However, when teaching critical thinking, allow your students a bit of extra time to thoroughly assess all of the potential factors to consider. This will encourage thinking rationally without worrying about working under a time constraint.

The more they get used to it, the quicker they’ll get too.

6. End each lesson with a Q and A

To optimize each lesson, you should end it with a Q&A session to allow students to ask any questions they may have about what they’ve learned that day. This allows consolidation of the course content and another opportunity to voice things they enjoyed learning about.

Remember to tell students that if they feel embarrassed to ask a question in front of their peers, they can linger to ask you in private. Students will learn better if they feel no shame in asking a question!

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