Why Students Must Learn Critical Thinking Skills
Current Reading Ranch Locations
By Brian Southwell
“I’m not just talking about the ability to think critically. I’m talking about thinking critically about things that really matter. Things like your life, what you want to achieve in it, and whether or not you will actually accomplish those goals.”
“I don’t want just to teach my children to read and write and calculate. I want them to learn how to think.”
– Ronald Reagan
Developing critical thinking skills allows us to approach situations and information with a certain mindset. It is the ability to think about different perspectives and how those perspectives change the outcome of the problem. This means that critical thinking is vital when studying and solving issues such as world peace, poverty, and global warming. These are all issues that come down to perspectives and how the mindset of the people involved changes how they go about solving these problems.
What are Critical Thinking and Reasoning?
Critical thinking means taking a problem or question, breaking it down into smaller parts, analyzing those parts, and coming up with an answer. Some people call this “thinking on paper” because they need to write their thoughts down to think critically about them and solve problems. In this article, we will use critical thinking and critical reasoning interchangeably.
Critical reasoning uses logic skills and sense to figure things out instead of relying on what someone else says is true (like parents or teachers). They consider different points of view before coming up with their own answers. And they admit when they don’t know something!
How can these skills help students in school?
In school, critical thinking is the name of the game in every subject, from math to science to history and beyond. Teachers want students who can think critically about different issues and problems. Critical thinking and logical reasoning skills help students do better in school because they learn how to approach all kinds of questions, including those that may not have one correct answer.
Without critical reasoning, students end up staying stuck on skills that they should master (like the old multiplication tables). They often need constant teacher feedback and guidance to figure out problems. They don’t know how to ask questions and solve problems on their own. And they can’t explain or understand why they got something wrong – or right – which keeps them from learning new material.
Critical Thinking and Logical Reasoning
Critical thinking and reasoning skills influence how students ask questions, solve problems, decide what to believe, explain ideas, think critically about what they see in the world around them, and express their thoughts. These skills are also all interconnected. For example, a child who can think critically about what she’s about a news story or opinion piece will make better decisions when engaging in the programming and reading she does at school and in her free time.
If these skills aren’t taught, students may feel lost when they get to college. Higher education is built upon critical thinking and reasoning skills because everything from class lectures to studying is about analyzing the material, asking new questions, being flexible with ideas, and figuring out what’s important.
Why is critical thinking/reasoning vital for one’s future?
With critical reasoning, students make connections between what they’re learning and their own lives. They can solve problems more efficiently because they use reason and analysis to figure out the best way to do something. And their problem-solving skills help them when they encounter challenges later in life.
Every day, people make decisions that affect their lives and the lives of those around them. These decisions range from what to wear in the morning, which class to take at school, or whether or not to have a second helping of dessert. As adults and as students, we must learn how to reason about these decisions. The more we decide for ourselves, the more control we have over our future.
Developing these vital skills is an essential part of life no matter where you go–whether college or the workplace–because they teach us how to make informed choices using logic and reasoning skills rather than relying on instinct alone.
Critical thinking and reasoning skills are deteriorating in today’s society
A recent study found that only one-third of American adults can name all three branches of the US government or find Ukraine on a map. Another survey found that college students had more difficulty answering questions about logic, math, and geography than they did 50 years ago. This is not because people are dumber–in fact, many are much brighter now due to better education and nutrition–but rather because critical thinking is no longer taught as it used to be.
As a result, critical thinking skills have deteriorated over time, with devastating consequences for our society at large. Critical thinking and reasoning are essential for making sound decisions in life, ranging from what car you buy to where you go to school or work and what activities you take part in.
People seem unable to ask good questions
People who can’t explain or understand why will stagnate in abilities that they should have mastered. They don’t know how to ask queries or resolve difficulties by themselves. And they are unable to convey or comprehend why they obtained anything incorrect – or correct – which prevents them from finding out new material or learning new skills.
Instant answers, instant opinions, is that where we’re going?
Our “instant,” “Google-it” society has trained us we need an immediate answer, regardless of its potential being incorrect. This attitude has permeated into all facets of life, leading people to become less inquisitive about the topics they regularly encounter, everything from politics and the news to science and pop culture.
Let’s start to foster critical thinking skills
For example, some people believe that one can end global warming simply by driving more fuel-efficient cars or moving to a “green” when it takes quite a bit of effort to alter the factors that cause global warming. Many of which are entirely out of Man’s control. Such ignorance leads to poor decision-making throughout life because of the lack of critical thinking skills.
What can schools do to help?
While schools are merely following societal norms, we must demand more from our schools, school boards, and school administrators as parents. Schools should not simply teach students to pass tests, but they should be teaching them how to think critically and analytically.
While our teachers understand this, unfortunately, most of our politicians and leaders focus on a score from a standardized test to favor public opinion, votes, and promotions.
The schools can quickly improve our children’s critical reasoning abilities by making critical thinking and reasoning skills a primary curriculum focus. Children learn best by doing, not just listing and taking a test. Current curriculums teach critical-reasoning skills, such as asking questions, formulating hypotheses, and designing experiments, but classes that teach these skills are few, and far more must be done. Critical analysis for kids should be a primary focus for our schools
Shouldn’t we ask our children questions and require them to answer?
For example, we should encourage kids to give their opinions on an issue and then explain why they hold their view and ask them to back it up with evidence. In this way, students will learn to think critically about any topic and form educated opinions based on facts and knowledge instead of what the person speaking last said.
Shouldn’t we question our media even more today?
Similarly, teachers should help students understand that just because a website or someone on the news said something doesn’t make it accurate. While this is an obvious concept to many adults, many middle schoolers and high schoolers have never thought about what they read on the internet.
Other sources of ideas
An excellent resource is Critical Thinking: How To Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World, by Dr. Richard Paul. There are many ways that schools can do to teach critical thinking skills to their students.
Media literacy, more important today than ever before
Today’s media and entertainment industries have essentially merged. Is the news simply entertainment, or worse, a mouthpiece to spew only opinions instead of facts.
It’s not just the media that has a bias; many of today’s youth are inundated with information from unreliable sources. The problem is that they are unable to convey or comprehend why they obtained anything incorrect – or correct – which prevents them from finding out new material or learning new skills. Instant answers, instant opinions, is that where we’re going?
Our “instant,” “Google-it” society has created an attitude that has permeated into all facets of life, leading people to become less inquisitive about the topics they regularly encounter, everything from politics and the news to science and pop culture.
For example, schools could incorporate media literacy into their core curriculum by having students watch movies and then deconstructing them in class through reading comprehension questions, writing prompts, or discussion forums. It’s also possible to implement these skills into existing curriculums.
Mine ideas from students, not just answers
Instead of simply telling them what to think, appeal to students’ ideas about themes they are studying in school. Instead of one-word responses that only check if the student understands, provide open-ended discussion questions that require critical thinking rather than yes or no answers.
Are Standardized Tests helping?
In addition to this, schools could set aside critical thinking activities as homework assignments once or twice a week. These activities would be beneficial in middle school, where students are beginning to learn about the world’s complexities around them. But when the primary goal of a school system is to raise a standardized test score, instead of teaching children to think, we lose precious minds and time.
Does a child’s score on a standardized exam reflect everything we should know about that child?
No, it simply shows how well they can retain information taught to them in the past. Instead of teaching critical thinking skills that will set our students up for success later in life, schools focus on filling their students’ heads with information rather than teaching them how to think critically about what is already inside their heads.
The Pendulum has swung too far.
While standardized testing has a place in education, it seems the pendulum has swung much too far in favor of these standardized tests.
We need to focus on teaching our children how to think critically about the world around them instead of preparing them for a test that measures what they retained in one setting.
How can parents help their children learn to think and reason critically?
As parents and members of the community, we must also remember that we play a large part in our children’s education.
Encouraging them to read outside of school.
Parents should encourage their children to read outside of school. This provides a chance to increase your child’s critical thinking skills as they analyze various texts and media sources, enabling them to determine the veracity of facts presented in these materials.
Modeling critical thinking and reasoning is also essential. By engaging our children in discussions of current events, politics, or science to practice applying the necessary thinking skills they are learning at school to real-world examples, we give them extra opportunities to hone their newly developing skills.
Show them how to use critical thinking and reasoning skills in daily life discussions such as politics or science.
Discuss News and Current Events
Discussing the news with your child is an excellent way for them to think critically about current events, as well as for you to understand what kind of information your children are absorbing. As is playing games that require critical thinking.
The key is to provide your children with the experiences they need to become critical thinkers and active participants in their community.
The Reading Ranch Critical Analysis Course (CARS)
What is The Reading Ranch
The Reading Ranch Literacy, Tutorial, and Diagnostics Centers offer exclusive and proprietary literacy programs/tutoring that is phonetically based for reading, writing, comprehension, spelling, and critical analysis (CARS). Our founder, Dr. Southwell, developed the curriculum and methods as part of her Doctoral studies based on sound research and proven principles. Our multi-sensory teaching approach is highly teacher/student interactive. We make reading and writing FUN.
We are the BEST at Literacy Enrichment and Intervention.
We focus ONLY on literacy (reading, writing, comprehension, spelling, critical analysis). We don’t do Math, or Science, or test preps. We focus only on PreK-6th Grade Literacy. Our laser focus on literacy sets us apart from our competitors and provides our students with exceptional results.
Educational Diagnostics and Assessments
In July 2021, The Reading Ranch added Diagnostic and Assessments testing to our other services offerings. We can now provide you with Literacy, Tutorial, and Assessment Services (Dyslexia, ADHD, Dysgraphia, IQ, Dyscalcugia, Private School, Learning Styles, and more).
What is the Reading Ranch’s CARS program?
The CARs program from The Reading Ranch provides an in-depth approach to mastering comprehension, exploring analysis, reflection, argument, and reasoned decision making using a logic-based method. Students will also broaden their vocabulary with word study, connotations, and analysis of topic sentences. We will help your children become self-sufficient learners who can discover solutions to problems they have never seen before. The children will learn to do their critical thinking. Parents can rest assured that their child is being taught necessary thinking skills in a fun and engaging environment with professional teachers at a relatively young age.
Develop a critical thinking mindset
We can provide your youngsters with better decision-making abilities. This leads to better decision-making and better success later in life. By teaching them to think critically at an early age, they will be ahead of their peers. This course helps foster critical thinking development. The Reading Ranch’s Critical Analysis and Reasoning class is developed specifically with this goal in mind. We can help students to discover solutions to problems that they have never seen before. But most importantly, it is fun!
Critical thinking and analysis for kids
With the CARs program, your child will better organize thoughts into logical arguments. They will identify inconsistencies in thought patterns and formulate new ideas from existing ones. Spot hidden assumptions; determine cause & effect relationships between events; recognize fallacies of logic such as faulty analogies or hasty generalizations; provide evidence to support conclusions; make inferences based on textual & visual cues.
The CARs program provides an in-depth approach to mastering comprehension, exploring analysis, reflection, argument, and reasoned decision making using a logic-based method that students will enjoy.
- Develop critical thinking skills.
- Teaches students to read with a purpose
- Improve comprehension and vocabulary
- They’ll have a better understanding of how words work together
- Decision making
- Spot hidden assumptions
- Cause and Effects
- Creative problem solving
- Learn how to research and write essays in the most effective way possible
- You’ll watch your child’s confidence grow as they learn new skills
- Become a better reader than their friends
- Ability to think and reason critically
- Becomes a critical thinker
- Foster curiosity
- Logical skills
We make Reading and Writing FUN!
For more information on The Reading Ranch’s CARs program, contact us today!
About The Reading Ranch
The Reading Ranch is based in Texas and has 11 Centers in the DFW area as well as an online Virtual Literacy Program. We are laser-focused on literacy and provide reading intervention, phonics for reading, reading enrichment, comprehension, writing, and critical analysis classes for Prek-6th grade students.
At The Reading Ranch, our motto is “We Make Reading FUN“! Our methods are interactive and not the “drill/kill’ of many other programs.
The Reading Ranch curriculum created by Dr. Southwell at The Reading Ranch is research-based and heavy on phonics. Research has proven time, and again phonics is the best method of learning language and literacy skills.