How To Develop Critical And Creative Thinking Skills In Students?
Look for successful people in the real world and you would agree that all of them have some traits in common. Whether or not they have academic credentials to their credit, each of them has acquired the ever-so-important, life skills. If you are keen that your child develop critical and creative thinking skills that help them tide over every circumstance in life, here is help. Before we list down the efforts & activities that will help your child pick up these critical skills, it will be worthwhile to understand what really is critical & creative thinking skills & whether or not they mean the same thing.
What Is Creative Thinking?
Creative thinking essentially means the ability to think outside the box; in other words, it is the ability to consider something in a new way. It involves some amount of lateral thinking and looking at patterns that aren’t so obvious. Creative thinking can therefore involve offering a new approach to a problem, resolution of conflict, and more.
Some of the skills that creative thinking involves developing, include:
- Analytical skills
- Problem Solving
- Organizational & planning skills
- Communication skills, and more
What Is Critical Thinking?
The term critical comes from the Greek word Kritikos meaning to be able to judge or discern. It, therefore, refers to higher-order thinking, which is much more than the ability to recall information. It is a fairly intellectual process that involves questioning, analyzing, interpreting, evaluating a situation & then finally making a judgment. Some of the critical thinking skills that children need to develop, therefore, include:
Is Creative Thinking & Critical Thinking The Same Thing?
Not quite. Simply put, critical thinking is the ability to clearly and logically consider information that is presented to us. Creative thinking on the other hand is about generating new ideas. So while critical thinking is more analytical, creative thinking is more generative in nature.
Why Should Students Have Both These Skills?
Armed with well-developed critical thinking abilities, a student will learn to question any given information, inspect the sources of information as also reject any unreliable information. Having done that, it is the ability to think creatively that will help the student look at things from a new perspective & develop new, unorthodox solutions. Clearly, the benefits of developing both these skills will not just be beneficial in academic life but also stand in good stead in real-life situations where the person will not be overwhelmed by challenging circumstances. Instead, he or she will learn to evaluate the circumstances & then come up with new ways to solve the situation.
Strategies To Build Creative & Critical Thinking Skills
In order that both these skills to develop from the early years, here are some handy strategies to follow.
1. Ask Questions
There isn’t a better way to encourage a child to think deeply about an issue than to present them with questions that enable them to go beneath the surface. Asking them open-ended questions that offer them the ability to reason out is key. Questions such as how a certain thing will affect the outcome, for example, will help the child build a hypothesis. Each time you ask “why” it will encourage the child to dig a little deeper into the issue. When a child answers your question, it will help to encourage them to show you the reasoning behind the answer. They could write it down, draw it or use any other tools that work for them. It is imperative at this stage to encourage & emphasize the value of thinking things through, as opposed to jumping to conclusions on whether or not their thinking is right.
While you ask them questions, also remember to encourage questions from their end. With young children typically, you tend to get a lot of “whys” that may wear you down to the point of exhaustion. However, instead of telling them, this is how it is supposed to be, as far as possible, try to explain the rationale behind it. When children are taught from a young age to undertake logical analysis, they grow up confident in their ability to question assumptions as also to use logic as opposed to taking decisions based on emotions alone.
Besides, expecting children to follow what you say, blindly, is a recipe for failure. Stanley Miligram conducted a series of Obedience to Authority Experiments wherein authority figures asked subjects to administer electric shocks to strangers. It was seen that most participants administered these painful shocks under instructions of authority figures, without questioning it. The experiment brought out the hazards of blindly obeying authority as opposed to the use of critical thinking skills before taking a decision.
2. Don’t Rush To Be A Rescuer
It sure is hard to see your child grapple with issues & it is more than tempting to rush into the situation to set things right. Allowing the child to evaluate the situation & coming up with alternatives is a great lesson that will stand them in good stead in life. Asking questions like, “What other ideas could we try?” or encouraging your child to generate options by saying, “Let’s think of the possible solutions”, are all ways to empower them.
Needless to mention that you have to take age-appropriateness into account & any situation that presents a danger to the child needs adult intervention.
Giving the child age-appropriate responsibilities also works well in helping them think through the situation & act accordingly.
3. Read Together
There is nothing quite like inculcating the habit of reading for children to be exposed to a wide variety of ideas. Besides stories help them analyze characters and storylines. Take the example of the story of ‘The Three Billy Goats Gruff’, for young children. You could use it to inculcate the importance of planning, brainstorming, constructing, and reflection in young children.
Activities, such as spontaneous storytelling also help enhance the child’s creative thinking skills. You could also always ask children to draw connections from the stories to the outside world. Exposing them to any additional texts that will help them evaluate the issue further, is also a good way to ensure additional reflection on the topic.
4. Ensure They Have Free Time & Space
While routine & structured activities have a place in a child’s life, it is equally important to ensure that the child is given enough space to freely explore & follow their imagination. Being attentive to the child’s explorations will fill him or her with a sense of security that will offer them the much-needed confidence to explore options.
5. Help Them Learn Through Play
While we tend to see play as opposed to work, the fact remains that critical life skills are well learned through play. Think of a guessing game that helps build reasoning skills, or puzzles that aid in pattern recognition, problem-solving & cognitive skills. You could also invent new games such as asking your child what else could a certain household object be used for. It will challenge the child to create new uses for the object. That these games will offer you bonding time with the child, is an added perk!
6. Offer Choices
While it is extremely tempting to make the right decision on behalf of the child, it is important to offer age-appropriate choices to children. In the process, they will learn to evaluate options & come to a decision independently.
7. Be A Good Role Model
The best way to teach a child an important life skill is to model it in your own life. Researching things to get to the bottom of the issue, challenging assumptions, brainstorming & generating alternate solutions when confronted with a life situation, are all aspects the child will observe & model when it comes to his own life.
8 Allow Mistakes
Above everything ensure that you teach the child that mistakes are to be viewed as learning opportunities as opposed to seeing them as failures. This will ensure that the child remains an eternal learner.
How Pragyanam Helps In Developing Critical And Creative Thinking In Kids?
At Pragyanam School developing life skills is a big focus area. We follow a Life Skills based Curriculum that is focused on nurturing 10 life skills recommended by World Health Organization (WHO). The school environment, in fact, provides a stimulating space where the child develops critical thinking abilities that stand him in good stead throughout the life. A focus on multi-disciplinary thinking ensures that students can make the necessary associations & analyze issues from different perspectives.
In addition, we also empower parents & facilitate that a similar environment is created at home. Little surprise then that Pragyanam is considered to be one of the best CBSE school in Gurgaon and is the go-to school for admission in Gurgaon.
It is when we take away our limiting beliefs that we empower each child to grow to their fullest potential. Here’s to us, adults, preparing the child for the road, as opposed to preparing the road for the child!