Presentation on theme: "1. What does it mean to think critically about something? 2. What is the role of critical thinking in education? 3. How does (or doesn’t) critical thinking."— Presentation transcript:
1. What does it mean to think critically about something? 2. What is the role of critical thinking in education? 3. How does (or doesn’t) critical thinking fit into EFL/ESL classes? 4. What kinds of classroom activities can help students to improve their critical thinking skills?
A couple of quotes Everyone thinks. It is in our nature to do so. But so much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce depends on the quality of our thought. -Richard Paul Critical thinking begins when people make the connections between their individual lives and social conditions. It ends one step beyond perception – towards the actions people take to regain control over social structures detrimental to their lives. -Susan Benesch
Stephen Brookfield: 4 components of Critical Thinking 1. Identifying and challenging assumptions is central to critical thinking. 2. Critical thinkers are able to understand and analyze the context of information. 3. Critical thinkers try to imagine and explore alternatives. 4. Imagining and exploring alternatives leads to critical awareness.
1. Identifying and challenging assumptions is central to critical thinking. Critical thinkers realize that ideas, actions, and beliefs are not necessarily right just because someone in a position of authority tells them they are or because “we’ve always done it this way in the past.” Example: Galileo
2. Understanding and challenging context is crucial to critical thinking. Critical thinkers understand that actions and behaviors that we view as appropriate or inappropriate are connected to the context of the culture and time in which we live. Critical thinkers are contextually aware. Example: Bribery and corruption
3. Critical thinkers try to imagine and explore alternatives. Because critical thinkers understand the assumptions and context of beliefs, they are able to consider new ways of thinking and responding to problems. Critical thinkers are open to new alternatives, not closed by the traditions of the past. Example: University tuition fees
4. Imagining and exploring alternatives leads to critical awareness. People who realize that alternatives always exist become skeptical of claims of universal truths or black/white, right/wrong solutions. Example: George Bush and Saddam Hussein
How I became interested in critical thinking Living in China for two years and observing the Confucian education model Teaching international students at university in America Training educators in Albania
What is the point of education? To transfer a fixed set of knowledge to students? To help students understand the values and traditions of previous generations? To provide society with a way to evaluate young peoples’ abilities? To promote an interest in life-long, self-directed learning? To prepare students to be as successful as possible in their futures? To give students the tools they need to create their own futures? To create active and informed citizens of their country and the world?
Critical thinking in the EFL/ESL classroom How it makes classes better 1. Classes are more interesting and engaging 2. It creates a sense of community and cohesiveness in the classroom 3. Students are empowered to think and question
Classroom Example: Two possible discussion topics related to a unit on the environment 1. In groups, students summarize the main issues covered in the unit in preparation for a final writing activity on the environment 2. Students outline the draft of a letter to be sent to the city’s mayor addressing their concerns about environmental issues in and around the city
Two things EFL/ESL teachers need to keep in mind when getting started 1. Knowing the interest of your students is essential 2. You must teach your students to really discuss the discussion questions
1. Knowing the interest of your students is essential Critical thinking requires student interest and involvement You need to know what issues are relevant to their lives Students respond better when they believe teachers are interested in their lives
2. You must teach your students to really discuss the discussion questions All textbooks have the read/discuss format Teachers often see the questions as requirements to “get through” In reality the questions are opportunities to encourage meaningful thought Students must be taught and encouraged to really discuss
Three activities to use in class to encourage critical thought Debate Media Analysis Problem Solving
Summary and Review 1. What does it mean to think critically about something? Analyze Analyze Reflect Reflect Explore Alternatives Explore Alternatives Challenge Assumptions Challenge Assumptions 2. What is the role of critical thinking in education? Valuable Life Skill Prepares students for future success Promotes life-long learning Promotes life-long learning
Summary and Review 3. How does critical thinking fit into EFL/ESL classes? Use of English as a tool to interact with the world Challenges for students studying abroad 4. Possible classroom activities? Debate Media Analysis Problem Solving