Critical thinking reading questions

How to strengthen higher order thinking skills for better reading comprehension
Contents:
  1. Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers
  2. Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers
  3. Critical reading
  4. Read these next…

How do you get all of your critical reading and thinking onto paper in a coherent way? Hopefully the process of actively engaging with the literature has clarified "what you want to say", which will help you to write a focused essay. Use this focus to plan your key points and identify the evidence you will bring in to support your argument. Structure and paragraphing are your friends, use them to build a logical progression or case.

The Writing at University page has more information on planning, structure and argument. Develop your voice by using different verbs to indicate your assessment of the literature. For example, shows is seen as positive as it reports an observation or finding as a proven fact. The use of concludes or states is seen as neutral. The writer's choice of verb shows their distance from the author's perspective and that the writer is questioning the author's approach.

This allows the writer to establish a critical perspective and follow with an evaluation of the author's point that may well include counter argument. So there are a lot of important educational goals deeply tied into critical thinking just as critical thinking is deeply tied into them.

Basically the problem in the schools is that we separate things, treat them in isolation and mistreat them as a result. We end up with a superficial representation, then, of each of the individual things that is essential to education, rather than seeing how each important good thing helps inform all the others.

What can teachers do to "kindle" this spark and keep it alive in education? Paul: First of all, we kill the child's curiosity, her desire to question deeply, by superficial didactic instruction. Young children continually ask why. Why this and why that? And why this other thing? But we soon shut that curiosity down with glib answers, answers to fend off rather than to respond to the logic of the question. In every field of knowledge, every answer generates more questions, so that the more we know the more we recognize we don't know.

It is only people who have little knowledge who take their knowledge to be complete and entire. If we thought deeply about almost any of the answers which we glibly give to children, we would recognize that we don't really have a satisfactory answer to most of their questions. Many of our answers are no more than a repetition of what we as children heard from adults.

We pass on the misconceptions of our parents and those of their parents. We say what we heard, not what we know. We rarely join the quest with our children. We rarely admit our ignorance, even to ourselves.

Why does rain fall from the sky? Why is snow cold? What is electricity and how does it go through the wire? Why are people bad? Why does evil exist? Why is there war? Why did my dog have to die? Why do flowers bloom?

Do we really have good answers to these questions? Question: How does curiosity fit in with critical thinking? Paul: To flourish, curiosity must evolve into disciplined inquiry and reflection.

Critical thinking and reading

Left to itself it will soar like a kite without a tail, that is, right into the ground! Intellectual curiosity is an important trait of mind, but it requires a family of other traits to fulfill it. It requires intellectual humility, intellectual courage, intellectual integrity, intellectual perseverance, and faith in reason.

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Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers

After all, intellectual curiosity is not a thing in itself — valuable in itself and for itself. It is valuable because it can lead to knowledge, understanding, and insight; because it can help broaden, deepen, sharpen our minds, making us better, more humane, more richly endowed persons. To reach these ends, the mind must be more than curious, it must be willing to work, willing to suffer through confusion and frustration, willing to face limitations and overcome obstacles, open to the views of others, and willing to entertain ideas that many people find threatening.

That is, there is no point in our trying to model and encourage curiosity, if we are not willing to foster an environment in which the minds of our students can learn the value and pain of hard intellectual work. We do our students a disservice if we imply that all we need is unbridled curiosity, that with it alone knowledge comes to us with blissful ease in an atmosphere of fun, fun, fun. What good is curiosity if we don't know what to do next or how to satisfy it?

We can create the environment necessary to the discipline, power, joy, and work of critical thinking only by modeling it before and with our students.

Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers

They must see our minds at work. Our minds must stimulate theirs with questions and yet further question; questions that probe information and experience; questions that call for reasons and evidence; questions that lead students to examine interpretations and conclusions, pursuing their basis in fact and experience; questions that help students to discover their assumptions, questions that stimulate students to follow out the implications of their thought, to test their ideas, to take their ideas apart, to challenge their ideas, to take their ideas seriously. It is in the totality of this intellectually rigorous atmosphere that natural curiosity thrives.

Question: It is important for our students to be productive members of the work-force. How can schools better prepare students to meet these challenges? Paul: The fundamental characteristic of the world students now enter is ever-accelerating change; a world in which information is multiplying even as it is swiftly becoming obsolete and out of date; a world in which ideas are continually restructured, retested, and rethought; where one cannot survive with simply one way of thinking; where one must continually adapt one's thinking to the thinking of others; where one must respect the need for accuracy and precision and meticulousness; a world in which job skills must continually be upgraded and perfected — even transformed.

We have never had to face such a world before. Education has never before had to prepare students for such dynamic flux, unpredictability, and complexity for such ferment, tumult, and disarray. Are we willing to fundamentally rethink our methods of teaching? Are we willing to learn new concepts and ideas?

Are we willing to learn a new sense of discipline as we teach it to our students?

Critical reading

Are we willing to bring new rigor to our own thinking in order to help our students bring that same rigor to theirs? Are we willing, in short, to become critical thinkers so that we might be an example of what our students must internalize and become? These are profound challenges to the profession. They call upon us to do what no previous generation of teachers was ever called upon to do. Those of us willing to pay the price will yet have to teach side by side with teachers unwilling to pay the price.

This will make our job even more difficult, but not less exciting, not less important, not less rewarding. Critical thinking is the heart of well-conceived educational reform and restructuring, because it is at the heart of the changes of the 21st Century. Let us hope that enough of us will have the fortitude and vision to grasp this reality and transform our lives and our schools accordingly.

Question: National standards will result in national accountability. What is your vision for the future? Paul: Most of the national assessment we have done thus far is based on lower-order learning and thinking. It has focused on what might be called surface knowledge.

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It has rewarded the kind of thinking that lends itself to multiple choice machine-graded assessment. We now recognize that the assessment of the future must focus on higher — not lower — order thinking; that it must assess more reasoning than recall; that it must assess authentic performances, students engaged in bona fide intellectual work.

Our problem is in designing and implementing such assessment. Department of Education, a model for the national assessment of higher order thinking. It was clear from the commitments of the departments of Education, Labor, and Commerce that such an assessment is in the cards. The fact is, we must have standards and assessment strategies for higher-order thinking for a number of reasons.

First, assessment and accountability are here to stay. The public will not accept less. Second, what is not assessed is not, on the whole, taught.