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In This Noisy World, Kids Really Need Critical Thinking

In This Noisy World, Kids Really Need Critical Thinking

More than 1 in 6 students in the United States are unable to solve complex thinking problems, according to the 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test done on 15 year old children in 44 different countries[1]. Though American students did well overall, they consistently lagged behind their Asian counterparts. Unfortunately, kids who lack critical thinking problem solving skills face a higher risk of behavior and economical problems as adults.

Our modern society tends to squash essential critical thinking skills with mind-numbing television shows, video games and self-explanatory simple directions. It eliminates problem solving skills by readily spoon feeding easy accessible solutions. The death of vital critical thinking has become eminent.

Critical Thinking Comprises 4 Skills

Critical thinking skills help kids solve complex problems and think for themselves.[2]

Logical Thinking

Using the scientific method approach to thinking and eliminating emotion.

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Research

Learning how to find solutions backed by facts through research, using scientific data to help formulate answers.

Self Awareness

The ability to perceive when their own bias from personal experience clouds their analysis of situations and learning to remove emotional judgments in their problem solving.

Thinking Outside the Box

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Challenging rules and questioning answers. Having the capability to view the problem from different perspectives, review all of the facts, not just their own, and pick the most logical solution.

Our Education System Tends to Stifle Children’s Critical Thinking Skills

With their emphasis on memorization and fill in the bubble tests, our education system tends to stifle children’s critical thinking skills. They drill facts and support one correct-answer thinking. But the essential soft skills of critical thinking provide children with the building blocks of a better future in the real world. These necessary problem solving skills also help to develop self confidence.

Ways to Help Your Child Develop Critical Thinking Skills

You don’t need to hire a private instructor to help your child develop these essential soft skills. You can easily incorporate complex problem solving lessons into your daily life.

Ask Your Child”Why”

Remember how your kids drove you crazy when they went through the “why’ stage? They constantly bombarded you with ‘why.’ Why is the sky blue? Why is the ball round. Why? Why? Why? Now it’s time to turn the tables and ask them why. According to Marlana Martinelli at WeAreTeachers.com, asking ‘why five times helps kids build critical thinking skills to solve problems[3].

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When your child presents you with a problem, such as needing a new video game, ask them why. They might say because it’s popular and everyone has it. Your second ‘why’ will have them digging into what makes it popular. They might say it’s based on WWII. Ask ‘why’ again. The third ‘why’ will make them dig deeper into the reason it’s based on WWII. They might find out because it has optimum battle opportunities- again pose ‘why’. In the end they may even come out with a deeper understanding on the battles fought in WWII and the reason behind them.

Support Arguments at Home

Have your child argue their viewpoint on a subject. Do they want to have a later bedtime? Have them present their explanation on why they should stay up late. Then instead of telling them why you think they shouldn’t, put them in your shoes and have them think of the reasons why you aren’t letting them stay up late.

Brainstorm a solution. Perhaps the reason why you didn’t want them staying up past a certain time was because they couldn’t get up early for school. Hold a scientific experiment- a week of staying up later to see if they can cope with early rising. Let them collect the data for each day. Are they still too tired in the morning? Unable to concentrate in school? Analyze the data together and let them find the perfect solution. Perhaps an hour later is too much, but 30 minutes later would work? Try 30 minutes for a week and repeat the data collection and analysis process.

Incorporate Research Skills in Daily Life

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Develop your child’s critical thinking skills by challenging their minds with research. You can incorporate this in daily life. If they ask to go to a movie, have them look up the times and prices at the local theaters. Don’t stop there. For older kids, have them add in the popcorn and drinks (with tax) and create a budget needed for a trip to the movie. Also have them check out the ratings and reviews and decide if it will be worth the cost of seeing it in theater or waiting for 6 months later to rent it for a fraction of the price. This teaches them research. It can be used in a myriad of situations: skating, bowling. mini-golf trips. Reading reviews on a place or movie (TripAdvisor or Yelp is good for place reviews) shows them different perspectives and things they may not have considered.

Cook with Your Kids to Practice Trial and Error

The kitchen provides the optimum place to engage critical thinking skills in children (and adults too). Every meal can be used to develop critical thinking. Ask your child their opinion on the food. What would they do to improve the dish? Ask why. Would they add something for a personal preference or because it really needs it- like salt. Would they remove something? Why?

Cooking with your child also helps to build problem solving skills. Use failures- like a fallen cake or flat cookies as an opportunity to do research- why did that happen? Come up with a solution to use the next time. Perhaps a different oven temperature was needed, the wrong type of flour used, or maybe the butter needed to be at room temperature.

By cooking with your kids, you are not only teaching them necessary critical thinking skills, but also providing them with essential life skill of cooking. A double-duty bonus!

By helping your kids to develop their critical thinking through problem solving, research, and experiments in daily life, you are providing them with vital skills that will help them become better, more capable adults

Featured photo credit: Sasin Tipchai via pixabay.com

Reference

[1]OECD.org: United States- Results of 2012 PISA Study
[2]Dan Kurland. Criticalthinking.com: What is Critical Thinking?
[3]Martina Martinelli. Weareteachers.com: 10 Tips For Teaching Kids To Be Awesome Critical Thinkers

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Last Updated on January 6, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1]University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2]Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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