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Teaching Kids to Be Critical Thinkers

Updated on August 8, 2012

The Power of Critical Thinking

We all want our children to grow up to be successful in life. The definition of success will differ for each individual, but it is common for parents to want their children to achieve in school. Education is valued greatly around the world and as times change, the challenges our children face need to be highlighted in our education systems. Children deserve a heads up, to prepare them with the skills and knowledge required for the future. Things are changing and they are changing fast. The world has become much smaller with communication technology and there is now unlimited information available at the touch of a few buttons. These factors create a need for children to be flexible to change and equipped with skills to be lifelong learners. No longer are drilling facts a priority for most educators. Education has evolved and the primary goal is to teach our children to be motivated learners and critical thinkers.

Using Questions to Teach Critical Thinking

To effectively prepare children for the challenges they will face in the future, one area of learning arises as essential. Our children must become good thinkers and not simply good at remembering facts. The children of tomorrow (and today) need lots of opportunity to evaluate information and formulate opinions about the world around them. A key to instructing children to be critical thinkers in the 21st century is through the power of questions. Good thinking is not driven by questions that have right and wrong answers. It is driven by questions that are open-ended and that provide opportunity for problem-solving. These are the golden questions that inspire children to grow in their learning.

Questions are a very important part of instruction. It is valuable for parents and educators to learn how to ask good ones and it is also important to teach children how to ask lots of them! When kids are taught that questioning is a skill, the stigma and fear of being wrong goes away. They understand that success is not about knowing the answers but instead it is about knowing what to ask. After all, it is questions that provide the foundation of all research; and it is questions that challenge the status quo to search new horizons and create change in the world.

The Level of Questioning

When we use questions to instruct learning it is important to remember that they are not all created equal. Some are better than others and for children to benefit, educators and parents must learn to ask quality questions that elicit critical thinking. Learning to ask good questions starts with understanding how they are leveled. For clarity on this it is useful to reference the new version of Blooms Taxonomy for higher-order thinking which also contains reference to an original version. The chart assists in raising the bar on instruction by delivering opportunities for more sophisticated thinking. When children develop their ability to analyze and problem-solve they become better able to handle the fast paced information world we live in. With this in mind, it now becomes evident that questions are the real answer for preparing our children to be life-long learners.


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    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 5 years ago

      It is great to hear you found the article useful Esther Strong! All the best!

    • Esther  Strong profile image

      Esther Strong 5 years ago from UK

      Thought provoking points here. Having read this I will try and be much more conscious to use open ended querstions.

    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 6 years ago

      Thanks for your comment mediaT.

    • profile image

      mediaT 6 years ago

      You're right! Learning is not just about regurgitating facts anymore! Questioning truly builds intelligence.

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 6 years ago

      I learned about Bloom's Taxonomy in grad school when studying Instructional Design. This is a great avenue when teaching kids. Thanks!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Great article. Reminds me of my teaching days. Welcome to HubPages

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile image

      Admiral_Joraxx 6 years ago from Philippines

      I believe that questioning is really a great tool for developing kids thinking. Great thought here! 1 vote up and useful.