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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 May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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