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Critical Thinking

“We should be teaching students how to think; instead we primarily teach them what to think”  ~ Jack Lochhead

At Hendricks Day School we do just that, concentrate on teaching students how to think not what to think.

What is critical thinking? 

Critical Thinking is reasonably and reflectively deciding what to think or do.

Why teach critical thinking? 

Because of projected demands of the workforce, students must be prepared to exercise critical judgment and creative thinking to gather, evaluate and use information for effective problem solving and decision making in their professions and lives. Students already use a variety of types of thinking in their personal lives. They decide if information they receive in emails or read on the internet is true and accurate. They compare and contrast when choosing friends. They predict what will happen if they stay out past their curfew. They make numerous decisions in and out of school every day, but do they perform these thinking tasks skillfully? For example, sometimes a person feels inclined to do something and may not think much about it before doing it. Such hasty and ill-considered decisions may lead to disappointing and unexpected surprises. In contrast, if we think about many options, search for new alternatives, think about the significant factors in making the choice, consider the consequences of our actions, and plan how to carry out our choice, our decision may be a more effective one. It is ordinary thinking done well that is our goal then we “teach thinking.” It is essential that we teach students how to use information and concepts that they learn in school to make decisions and solve problems effectively.

Hendricks infuses Critical Thinking skills into the curriculum and daily lives of our students, staff and families to produce lifelong skillful problem solvers and decision makers. We provide students with specific strategies, explicit steps and opportunities to question, analyze and evaluate information when making decisions and solving problems.

Skillful Decision Making:

  1. What makes a decision necessary?
  2. What are my options?
  3. What are the likely consequences of each option?
  4. How important are the consequences?
  5. Which option is the best in light of the consequences?

Skillful Problem Solving:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What are possible solutions to the problem?
  3. What would happen if you solved the problem in each of these ways?
  4. What is the best solution to the problem?

Other thinking skills that help lead to effective decision making and problem solving are:

Comparing and Contrasting

Determining Parts-Whole Relationships

Finding Reasons and Conclusions

Generating Possibilities

Determining the Reliability of Sources

Causal Explanation




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