Critical Thinking in the Digital Age

As ‘information’ and knowledge become ever more accessible through electronic accessibility it raises many questions about how education and teaching methodologies/ pedagogy need to adapt and change. Young learners are often tempted to believe, especially when responding to an education system that gives undue importance to ‘content’ at the expense of ‘process’, that the task of learning has become far simpler because they just have to access some information and take possession of it as their own.

However, increasingly, there are those who recognise that we must introduce a far greater emphasis on some vital ‘how’ skills if children are to grow up as effective and discerning learners and ‘consumers’ of knowledge and information. Critical thinking and new kinds of information literacy sit at the heart of these skills.

As highlighted in some recent resources I discovered this is hardly new. In 1605, Sir Francis Bacon, the father of scientific thinking, outlined the habits of minds skilled in research. Such minds are (paraphrased):

a) “Nimble and versatile” enough to see relationships among things, in addition to subtle distinctions
between them.
b) Inquisitive.
c) Patient enough to doubt and ask questions.
d) Fond of reflecting.
e) Slow to assert and ready to consider multiple points of view.
f) Careful to support their points of view and to formulate an argument with reasons
and evidence.
g) A slave neither to passing trends nor to established traditions but capable of judging the credibility of
sources and making independent judgments about information.
h) Alert to all deception.

I’m not normally in the habit of promoting the products or materials of the great monolith, Microsoft (or it’s baby brother Bing), but on this occasion I do believe these are excellent materials for all educators and they’re available free of charge:

The upper half of this page is not really relevant, but the real value is in the group of links to downloadable materials in the bottom half of the page (including an excellent ‘Critical Thinking’ free downloadable e-book in pdf format:

Redu Page Link

(Redu stands for = Rethink/ Reform/ Rebuild Education)


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