Critical Thinking Skills – Thought-Provoking Topics Encourage Hudson College Students
By Rose Bastien,Hons. B.A., B. Ed., M.Ed., OCT
Critical thinking skills are defined as the ability to think rationally and independently, to understand the connection between ideas and to see ideas from different perspectives. The ability to think critically is an important skill in the global knowledge economy that increasingly demands participants to analyse information and integrate different sources of knowledge in problem-solving.
According to L. Elder and R. Paul, authors of Critical Thinking Development: A Stage Theory, critical thinking skills enable students to make connections across disciplines and understand content on a “deeper, more lasting level.” Students who can think critically do better academically and in careers. Critical thinkers consider, evaluate and incorporate other’s ideas into innovative solutions and therefore make exceptional leaders.
Students who can think critically do better academically and in careers
Hudson College recognises the importance of critical thinking skills, and therefore, teachers focus their curriculum on developing these skills in their students. Units of study in language, media, science and social studies, often begin with provocative questions that ignite an interest in the topic to be studied.
Curriculum topics are embedded in social justice issues, historical contexts, and political and economic theories. For example, prior to reading the novel Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, Grade 4 students learn about the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States. Hunger, joblessness and events which occurred in the 1930s, that were related to issues of civil rights, are discussed. As the students progress through their novel study, teachers explicitly model, guide and encourage the connection of ideas in the novel that relate to their class discussions.
Hudson Grade 6 students review and discuss social attitudes and fears towards an increasingly technological society in the 1950s and ‘60s. Such class discussions help students understand Ray Bradbury’s stories, ‘Marionettes, Inc.’ (1949) and ‘The Veldt’ (1950) – from The Illustrated Man -on a deeper level. As students read, they will discuss and respond to the question, ‘Is there an increasing loss of human relationships as we become increasingly more dependent on technology?’
As the students progress through their novel study, teachers explicitly model, guide and encourage the connection of ideas in the novel that relate to their class discussions.
Hudson teachers believe the ability to think critically underlines social change for the better. Our Grade 8 students engage in critical thinking skills when they deconstruct popular advertisements to reveal subtle and hidden messages that sustain systemic discriminatory practices in society. Using this information, the students create media pieces that promote acceptance of diversity.
Our Grade 8 students engage in critical thinking skills when they deconstruct popular advertisements to reveal subtle and hidden messages that sustain systemic discriminatory practices in society
Critical thinking skills are practised daily as students and their teachers, discuss, evaluate, and consider ideas from a variety of primary and secondary sources. Students are encouraged to make connections and to share innovative ideas that come from those discussions. They are also encouraged to critically reflect upon their own understandings and ideas. Such reflective processes develop critical thinking further as students learn to see their own ideas as perspectives which can also be subjected to critical review.
It is for all of these reasons that critical thinking is interwoven into all areas of Hudson’s programming.
Rose Bastien, Hons. B.A., B. Ed., M.Ed., OCT
VP, Lower School and Head of Curriculum