Education has evolved tremendously over the last two decades, and so has the approach of the teacher. Visualize a classroom in the 1980’s, where teacher-centered learning was the focus and students relied heavily on teacher directed learning. Textbooks were, in most cases, the main source of information. Critical thinking was probably the teacher’s job. Memorization of facts was the primary method of learning. Well, this was the story in the past! Welcome to the 21st century classroom, where students initiate the learning, create and collaborate with each other to come up with new ideas and hence become independent learners! Learning is not confined to textbooks. Students and schools such as our private schools, are now more resourceful than ever, both technologically and academically.
The learning environment at Rowntree Montessori Schools provide opportunities that facilitate this process of developing critical thinking skills, which has becoming an essential part of learning. This all important skill is intricately embedded into all our activities and across all learning areas, and students are encouraged to use their reasoning skills, logic, imagination and innovation inside, as well as outside.
By applying a series of critical thinking skills, students develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the processes which they can employ whenever they encounter problems, unfamiliar information, and new ideas. The practice of using thinking strategies increases students’ motivation for their own learning. They become more confident and independent problem-solvers and thinkers. Challenges of the 21st century – with its complex environmental, social, and economic pressures – require young people to be creative, innovative, enterprising, and adaptable.
Following is just one example of how students in Grade One employ 6 steps of critical and creative thinking through discussions, analysis of texts, and through the creation of their own written texts which require logic, imagination, and innovation in Language Arts.
- Knowledge (recall of information): Students recalled all the information about story writing and steps involved.
- Understanding (selecting facts or ideas): Students understood that character, setting, plot, middle, and end are important components of story writing.
- Applying (use of facts and ideas): Students used artists story board to make up their own story frameworks.
- Analyzing (describe and compare): Students then described their story framework and compared with the one they had read with the teacher.
- Synthesizing (combining their ideas to form new whole): Students then combined ideas from their artists story board and wrote their stories.
- Evaluating (assess their peers ideas): Students then evaluate their peers stories using rubric.
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