Critical Thinking In Education

Critical thinking “involves the ability to explore a problem, question or situation; integrate all the available information about it; arrive a solution or hypothesis; and justify one’s position” (Petress). In recent years “critical thinking” has become a widely debated in post-secondary institutions. Though higher thinking has always been valued in these institutions, critical thinking is a relatively new term that people are finding difficulty in defining and struggling to implicate in schools prior to post-secondary in order to prepare students. As many of the reports agree on, our secondary school education system fails to prepare students for the higher thinking skills required by post-secondary schools. (Holmes, DiCarlo, Kelly). I argue …show more content…
Petress says critical thinking is a “pervasive academic literature term that is seldom clearly or comprehensively defined.” Its meaning is heavily contested with some saying it is never universal because everyone thinks differently (Defining Critical Thinking) and others believe it must be standardized so everyone can learn to critically think the same way. Critical thinking is also a Western term (Kelly). There are philosophical differences between cultures with different emphasis on aspects of higher thinking that would affect one’s definition of critical thinking and how it should be taught and tested. (Kelly). When educators cannot agree on what critical thinking is it is difficult for them to teach it to students and to test them on their critical thinking skills. Even when teachers do attempt this, there is a huge variability in what the students are being taught and how they are taught to do …show more content…
How do we know if a student has grasped the skill of critical thinking? There are ways to evaluate critical thinking which usually includes, in elementary and secondary school, reading a passage and thinking about its deeper meaning, then repeating it back to the class or the teacher. Arguably, this is only testing their reasoning and verbal skills. We do not know what the student does in their head automatically or only with instruction or if they apply it to their lives and the outside world. Students often slip through the cracks without learning the skill and struggle in life and in post-secondary because of it. Petress argues that critical thinkers need an active imagination and a desire for knowledge but not every child has these qualities. Imagination is not teachable. It can be fostered and refined, much like critical thinking, but many believe it cannot be taught if the student does not have the capability for it. Critical thinkers “need a keen power of observation… need to become facile with abstract though and to be able to share abstractions in coherent ways with others” (Petress). As Kelly states, there is general harmony that critical thinking includes developing skills and having a disposition to it. Yet, students without critical thinking skills whether due to lack of having them or lack of them being developed

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