Critical thinking

How do we know what is true and not true? How do we know right from wrong? How do we know who we agree with, and who we disagree with?

Life is full of these big questions. We might be reading the news, arguing with our siblings, or — when we grow up — deciding who to vote for. Luckily, there is a key skill that will help us answer these questions with confidence. That skill is critical thinking.

A good critical thinker is sure of their own opinion, but willing to change it if they learn new information. They are interested in the facts. They listen carefully to other people’s opinions, even if they disagree.

Critical thinkers are always coming back to the same question: Why? Why should I believe this? Why do you feel that way? Why is this idea better than that one? If you often ask the question “why” then congratulations — you are already learning how to think critically!

Here are the three biggest steps to becoming a critical thinker:

1/ Question everything. Do not assume things are true just because someone says so. Ask for evidence.

2/ Listen to other people. This is why The Day Explorer always gives two different opinions at the end of its news articles!

3/ Make up your own mind.

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Assembly

This video gives five tips for improving your critical thinking.

Activities

  1. One of the best ways to develop your critical thinking skills is to learn how to debate. Split into pairs and debate the question: Should our school have a uniform? The person whose name comes first in the alphabet will argue “Yes”. The person whose name comes second will argue “No”. (Some rules for a good debate: Do not interrupt each other. Give reasons for your arguments. Respond to the other person’s arguments with counterarguments.)
  2. Read the article published below. Pay special attention to the two arguments at the end of the article. Then write a paragraph explaining why you disagree with one side.