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Critical thinking skills take your students to the next level

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is an important set of skills for all students to develop — and it’s not just an academic exercise. Critical thinking is a vital life skill, and we can all benefit from sharpening our critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly about something. It’s the ability to be aware of what you know and what you don’t know, and to decide how much of your knowledge you can trust. Critical thinking is important for students to master because it helps them become more effective learners.

Why is critical thinking important? What does it do for students?

Critical thinking is a skill that is important in the modern world, especially in the workplace. Although training in critical thinking is a valuable life skill, this learning technique is also extremely effective for students who want to learn a skill that will allow them to excel in a new area or in their current interests.

Students need critical thinking skills in order to have an open mind and to think independently. Critical thinking is also important for students who want to solve problems, evaluate evidence, learn new material or be able to explain their ideas clearly.

Students should know how to identify bias, recognize when something is missing from a story, analyze data, and create an argument. They should have the ability to think creatively and make connections between things.

As students learn to think critically, they gain a mental toolbox for evaluating the validity of arguments. They learn to recognize logical fallacies, to assess how well arguments support their conclusions, and to distinguish the reasons one conclusion is more attractive than another.

Critical thinking skills can help students succeed in school by improving their reading comprehension and writing abilities. They help students find the main idea of a text and understand its meaning and significance. Critical thinking helps them make sense of what they read and identify the author's purpose for writing.

Students who have gained these skills can do more than simply analyze arguments they encounter in their reading. They can also generate their own arguments, ensuring that they have a balanced view of an issue and a full understanding of its implications.

Someone who knows how to use critical thinking skills effectively is better prepared for college and careers because he or she will analyze information and assess situations accurately. Critical thinking skills are also helpful in daily life, such as at home, at work, and in social settings.

Critical thinking skills help students understand the world around them. These skills empower students to become active participants in the civic life of a democratic republic society.


By enabling them to distinguish fact from opinion, truth from falsehood, and sound reasoning from mere rhetoric.

How can you help your students master critical thinking skills?

The ability to think critically is hugely important in everyday life, and can be a great tool for student success if properly developed.

As their brains continue to develop, students become better able to process information and make decisions.

What makes critical thinking concepts challenging for students is the amount of information that must be absorbed and mentally processed.

One of the most important things you can do for your student is to help them develop critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are the abilities and skills used by academics to analyze, scrutinize, and evaluate information, ideas, and arguments.

This involves active participation by the student in their own learning experience. Students who learn how to think critically will be able to think for themselves and will be able be successful in all areas of life.

So what does this mean for students and parents? Parents need to encourage students to:

  • Read

    • Reading books, magazines, and other publications is a great way for students to exercise their critical thinking skills.

    • Encourage your student to read material from various sources, from different eras, from various viewpoints, etc.

  • Question what you read

    • Be sure that they question what they read.

    • Are there any biases in the material?

    • What makes them say that?

    • Do they offer proof or conjecture?

  • Question authority

    • This is a great thing for parents to model for their children. They should be questioning you when you tell them something.

    • Why is it true?

    • How do you know?

    • Whenever it is appropriate, you want them to question what you tell them because it helps build a foundation of critical thinking skills that will last a lifetime.

Learning to think critically means putting aside aesthetic, intellectual, or emotional preferences and using logic and examples to make the best underlying assumptions of a belief. Critical thinkers become more able to understand alternate theories and perspectives, more able to differentiate between facts and beliefs, and appreciate both the subtleties and the grandiose in every situation and decision.

How can teachers practice their own critical thinking skills?

Teachers can really take their students to the next level by practicing critical thinking themselves.

That includes:

  1. Being aware of our own biases and how they affect our teaching.

  2. Making an effort to use a range of sources for information, not just official or traditional sources, so we don't accidentally teach only the information others have decided is important.

  3. Being willing to question what we've always done and try something different that might work better (or even worse).

  4. Being open to changing our minds when presented with evidence that shows we're wrong.

To help students develop critical thinking skills, we need to practice them ourselves. Teachers must be able to articulate clearly the standards and expectations. They must be able to respond effectively to student questions or problems.

It is important that teachers understand what they are trying to teach their students, how they will do so, and why it will be beneficial for them to learn it.

Teachers must be able to use questioning techniques that assess understanding of the material being taught. They must also be able to model critical thinking skills for students. And when we think about how we might do that, it's helpful to realize that we all have our own individual ways of doing it.

You and I and all the other teachers in the world think critically in unique ways, and we each have our own strengths and weaknesses in this respect. And we can consciously work on improving the way we think critically, just as we can work on improving any other aspect of our teaching or learning styles.

We can read books about critical thinking techniques; we can seek out courses, workshops, conferences, and so on; we can ask others for advice; we can try one technique today and another tomorrow, repeating until some approach seems to work for us consistently.

There are no "right" ways to practice developing your own critical thinking skills -- only some better than others.

Come up with your own conclusions

Critical thinking is examining an issue carefully and objectively, allowing you to draw your own conclusions. It's important to note that critical thinking isn't the same thing as simply being skeptical or questioning everything.

Critical thinkers examine information in order to develop strong opinions, but they also question their own thoughts and opinions to make sure their thoughts are well-founded.


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