Our preschool recently opened up next year’s registration (already?!) and I was bombarded by the age-old question of “play versus academics.” Again, I am here to tell you, that is the wrong question. The question to ask is how to best encourage critical thinking.
Amongst many philosophies and practices, teachers are almost universally taught Bloom’s Taxonomy when addressing critical thinking. What’s good for teachers, is surely good for parents.
Bloom’s Taxonomy, classifies six cognitive levels of thinking and learning:
• Create: invent,
• Evaluate: select, recommend, rate
• Analyze: explain, investigate, compare
• Apply: use, illustrate, complete
• Understand: discuss, describe, give an example
• Remember: state,
When our children recite the alphabet or repeat stories, they demonstrate Remembering. As they answer questions about stories, they retell using their own words, demonstrating Understanding. Again, not a higher level skill.
Higher level thinking requires us to strive for Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating.
What does this look like in our busy lives? Reading gives us plenty of fodder to develop critical thinking skills. Start by asking:
Why do you think she did that? What do you think he was thinking then? (Analyzing)
What do you think is going to happen next? Do you think their plan is going to work? (Evaluating)
What would happen if they did something different? (Creating)
For an afternoon’s fun, dig in your kitchen drawers; find obscure tools relegated to dark corners. To encourage analytical thinking, ask what the function of the tool is. What are its parts or features? How does it compare to…? To develop evaluation skills discuss all the jobs the tool might do and the many ways it may be of use. To create, put the tool to use. Did it work? _
Lisa Monette has worked with children for over 20 years, she is the Director of the Sheila and Eric Samson Family Early Childhood Center at the Merage JCC. Contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.