What's needed is a good dose of scepticism in order to start
thinking more objectively about things
Over the last few weeks my history students have been working on a
new essay. They've been considering how continuity and change affects
the topic they've chosen. Yesterday I had a discussion with some
students about the fact they weren't enjoying this essay, and just
struggling with the subject in general.
I was a little gutted for a few moments. Then I realised this wasn't
about me but about the fact that, for whatever reason, the students
weren't really understanding what I was asking them to do. So… last
night I did some hard thinking about how I can really engage them. Not
only in the topic they're researching, but really to develop their
So I have a new strategy now with some fun and engaging activities
for next week to get them thinking and build their skills. But it has
really got me thinking about critical thinking.
Because we live in a media-saturated world, students often take what
they see and hear for granted. The expression "curiosity killed
the cat" is one that doesn't apply here. We want students to
question what they're reading in relation to what they know.
So much of what students see or hear is sensationalised, and writers
are often paid to persuade us to believe what they write. What's
needed is a good dose of scepticism in order to start thinking more
objectively about things.
Often students read information and only consider what they
comprehend in what they have just read. They need to connect the
information they've read into other aspects of what they know or how
it might link in or be in relationship with other information they
have at hand or have experienced.
I find sometimes that students lack logical flow in how they think
when they're developing ideas. Some students like structure in order
to develop their ideas and opinions. Sometimes students just don't
seem to know which questions to ask in order to dig a little deeper
with a complex problem or issue.
As students develop their higher order thinking skills, they'll begin
to ask more complex questions. However, for some students they just
need a starting point. I need to help my students really understand
the importance of analysis and the ability to account for the
information they're reading in relation to their topic. The thing I
like about this essay is that the students need to consider continuity
and change and this in itself is asking them to make connections and
see how complex issues can form relationships within the historical context.
This is an edited version of a post that was originally
published on 30 October 2014 at Techno
in the classroom.