Critical Thinking 21st Century Education Teachers

Reason Effectively

  • Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation

Use Systems Thinking

  • Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems

Make Judgments and Decisions

  • Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs
  •  Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view
  • Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments
  • Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis
  • Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes

Solve Problems

  • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
  • Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions 

Additional information about these skills is listed below. 

1.  Critical Thinking Lesson Plans - Univerity of North Carolina

Lesson plans in the UNC Chapel Hill School of Education database relating to critical thinking.

2.  Integrating Critical Thinking Skills Into the Classroom

How to article on incorporating these skills into classroom teaching.

3.  Critical Thinking Consortium

The Consortium’s aim is to work in sound, sustained ways with educators and related organizations to inspire, support and advocate for the infusion of critical, creative and collaborative thinking as an educational goal and as a method of teaching and learning 

4.  Resources and Downloads for Teaching Critical Thinking

Educators from the Bay Area's KIPP King Collegiate High School and the KIPP network have provided these resources for you to use in your own school.

5.  12 Resources for Effectively Teaching Critical Thinking Skills

A list of resources that educators can use to effectively integrate critical thinking in their classroom. 

6.  Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

A list of teaching strategies that help promote critical thinking. 

7.  Best Resources on Teaching and Learning Critical Thinking in the Classroom

8.  25 of the Best Resources for Teaching Critical Thinking


May 7 2014, Volume 1, Issue 4, No. 3

Meir Ben-Hur, Ed.D, is Vice President of Programs, International Renewal Institute, Inc. and lead international Trainer of Trainers in the Feuerstien Method. He has authored a practical mathematics series for teachers to build on the development of students' conceptual grasp of math content as identified in the Common Core.

Driving Question:  Why and how the preparation of students for the 21st century must transcend test preparation.

The celebrated educational philosophy of the day and the current education practices are critically incongruent. While the importance of high-levels of learning and reasoning abilities is central in the national dialogue about global competence and 21st Century Skills, our education practices remain largely impassive to the development of such skills. The striking disparities in student learning and reasoning abilities are well documented, but the persistence of achievement gaps point to the magnitude of the problem.

If we are to be successful, teacher preparation and professional development must re-focus on the intentional development in students of high-levels of learning and reasoning abilities and affective dispositions, and policy makers must help facilitate the necessary changes. To this end, we call upon each school to create the learning environments which focus on developing five crucial dispositions in every student, not as "nice to have" but necessary to learn and live in the 21st century global community.

A Cognitive Manifesto

The transcending target of 21st century educational activity ought to be fixed on cultivating learning dispositions that lead to deeper learning for all children. We believe that these result from intentional development of a high-level of learning and reasoning abilities. These five human dispositions will only be brought about by significant changes in educational practice.

Development of cognitive and affective dispositions. Enhancing the new generation's education to meet the 21st century challenges is not just a matter of improving content, technologies, and rigorous assessment methods. It is imperative that we focus on the intentional development of students' cognitive and affective dispositions. Without priority attention to this development of students' cognitive and affective dispositions, we do not believe the learning gaps will ever close.

Abstract Thinking. Effective academic experiences involve an orientation to abstract thinking. The preoccupation with concrete "hands-on" learning activities may show immediate results of some sort, but it does not necessarily offer the conditions for "stretching" students' minds to the point that they learn to generalize, analyze, formalize, induce ideas, conceptualize, categorize, find patterns, etc. The latter can be achieved in the most prudent, economical way by teachers who follow well-organized and systematically progressive formats of thoughtful activities that aim at the development of such skills.

Intrinsic Learning Motivation. Higher academic achievements are associated with intrinsic motivation to learn. It has been abundantly documented that, just like successful career development and job satisfaction, there is a high correlation between academic achievements and intrinsic motivation to learn. It is time to move away from the behavioral tradition that emphasizes the need to achieve over the motivation to engage in challenging academic tasks for the challenge itself. This disposition is obviously contingent upon the enhancement cognitive capacity to meet the academic challenges.

Active Participation. Academic achievement is associated with students' active participation in learning. We must teach students that they can question the validity of the information they encounter, and they can generate new and valuable ideas and make their unique contributions. We must encourage students to seek and generate ideas, communicate their ideas effectively, listen critically to peers, and be constructively critical even of their teachers' arguments.

Insightful Learning. What students do when they err, or alternately, what they do when they exceed their own expectations, matters. Reflection upon past experiences is imperative in productive 21st century life, more than ever before. The foundation of reflective practices can be enhanced by deferring the judgment of the quality of execution to the students themselves with preset criteria, in place of imposing the teachers' judgment.

We strongly believe that if as a society we accept the premise that learning dispositions can be enhanced, than in the 21st century schools must "step up to the plate" and become what Reuven Feuerstein refers to as cognitively modifying environments that enable students to meet the challenges of learning and develop competitive skills. Each of the dispositions identified in the above list are not just nice to have; they are imperatives for every classroom, for every student.


 Next: A Principal Connects Feuerstein, Neuroscience and Critical Thinking





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