Critical Thinking

Using purposeful, analytical, reflective processes in various contexts.

Critical thinking consists of a complex set of skills, which leads to some complex definitions.  But at its heart, critical thinking is about analyzing a position or information for validity.

Critical Thinking is embedded in our Ontario curriculum documents. Regardless of subject matter, critical thinking is an integral part of program planning. Student thinking skills, often expressed in verbs, should play a central role in planning for highly effective programs. Critical and creative thinking skills are also categorized in the Achievement Charts in the front matter of curriculum documents. The following quotes from an elementary curriculum document and a secondary curriculum document, provide a context for the role of critical thinking.

 

Critical thinking is the process of thinking about ideas or situations in order to understand them fully, identify their implications, make a judgement, and/or guide decision making.Critical thinking includes skills such as questioning, predicting, hypothesizing, analyzing, synthesizing, examining opinions, identifying values and issues, detecting bias, and distinguishing between alternatives. It involves an inquiry process of exploring questions about and solutions for issues that are not clearly defined and for which there are no clear-cut answers. Students who are taught these skills become critical thinkers who do not merely accept the obvious as a given.

Students use critical thinking skills in the arts when they assess, analyse, and/or evaluate the impact of something and when they form an opinion about something and support that opinion with a rationale. In order to do these things, students need to examine the opinions and values of others, detect bias, look for implied meaning, and use the information gathered to form a personal opinion or stance, or a personal plan of action with regard to making a difference.

 The Arts Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8, 2009, p. 53

 

Critical thinking is the process of thinking about ideas or situations in order to understand them fully, identify their implications, make a judgement, and/or guide decision making. Critical thinking includes skills such as questioning, predicting, analysing, synthesizing, examining opinions, identifying values and issues, detecting bias, and distinguishing between alternatives. Students who are taught these skills become critical thinkers who can move beyond superficial conclusions to a deeper understanding of the issues they are examining. They are able to engage in an inquiry process in which they explore com­plex and multifaceted issues, and questions for which there may be no clear-cut answers.

Students use critical-thinking skills in social sciences and humanities when they assess, analyse, and/ or evaluate the impact of something and when they form an opinion about something and support that opinion with a rationale. In order to think critically, students need to examine the opinions and values of others, detect bias in their sources, determine why a source might express a particular r bias, look for implied meaning, and use the information gathered to form a personal opinion or stance, or a personal plan of action with regard to making a difference.

The Ontario Curriculum Grades 9-12, Social Studies and Humanities, p.46

In the following video provided by the Literacy and Numeracy secretariat, Dr. Alan Luke explains the importance of teaching students to be critical thinkers about literacy. As educators we need to provide students opportunities to analyse everything they read and hear and with continued practice of this skill. Dr. Alan Luke describes how “all text is constructed for a purpose and that reading is not a passive act but an interaction between the text and a reader who looks for meaning, asks questions and challenges assumptions.” Alan Luke

In this video, Lucy West explores why teachers need to be really interested in what students have to say.
Lucy encourages educators to have students critically think about each other’s answers, which provides opportunities for students to make meaning and develop understanding about big ideas/concepts.

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