Critical and Creative Thinking
By Dr Holly Miller
Deputy Head of Preparatory School
“If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless” (Baker, 2020).
When I consider the question of ‘what is an education worth having?’ I immediately think of the need for our students to be able to think critically and creatively. In a previous post, Mr Brad Evans discussed the importance of our students having a voice within their learning and asking well-considered questions that allow for deep discussion and real-world application of the concepts and knowledge they are being taught. Asking such questions and being able to participate in robust discussion is often facilitated by encouraging our students to be curious, spend time wondering, have opportunities to analyse and problem-solve as well as the intentional teaching of thinking skills.
Sparking students' curiosity is at the heart of quality education. Sir Ken Robinson (2015) said it well when he said “When their curiosity is engaged, they will learn for themselves, from each other, and from any source they can get their hands on”. Cultivating curiosity ignites passion for learning and when embraced, leads to opportunities to think criticality and creatively. Thinking critically involves more than formal logic. It is the ability to analyse concepts and ideas to discover new possibilities. It is the time taken to solve problems in a variety of different ways. It is the ability to make connections and conclusions and then justify their thinking. All of these elements of critical thinking take practice and teaching. As educators, we must provide meaningful learning experiences and provocations that ignite student curiosity. Students should be encouraged and taught to ask questions that challenge the status quo, think deeply about the content or concept they are learning and explore their own interests and capacities to that they can discover their passion.
Many of us have heard about the need to ‘future proof’ our schools and that curriculums should be ‘future focused’, however twenty years into the 21st Century the future is now. What was once a discussion on the need to embed 21St Century skills into the teaching and learning experiences at school should now be a call to action. The digital and globally connected world in which our students have a plethora of information at their fingertips, requires them to be independent thinkers as well as analytical, innovative and creative problem solvers, so that they can successfully process new information and challenges that they encounter. Being able to think critically and creatively are skills that will support our students to be successful in their future studies, careers and lives. An education worth having not only teaches content, but also develops the skills required for our students to find meaning in what they are learning as well as find their passion to become lifelong learners
While as educators we continue to research, collaborate and ourselves be curious in how we can redefine curriculum and what schools may look like, I encourage everyone to nurture their child’s innate curiosity be they 5 years old or 15 years old. What excites your child to want to keep learning to the point they are so engrossed in what they are doing that they lose track of time or incessantly ask questions in the quest to know more? By cultivating curiosity we are providing a springboard into deep thinking skills and finding what may be a life-long passion.
For further information about our Preparatory School teaching philosophy, please download the Preparatory School Prospectus.
Dr Holly Miller
Baker, M. (2020). Critical Thinking Company. Retrieved from: https://www.criticalthinking.com/company
Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2015). Creative schools: Revolutionizing education from the ground up. Penguin UK.
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