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.
Next Saturday 22 February is World Thinking Day. Here are five simple steps to help you be a critical thinker:
1. Choose the question you want to answer. (For example, is this news story true?)
2. Gather facts and information about it. (For example, what does the story say?)
3. Ask important questions. (For example, is it biased [one-sided]?)
4. Think about the effects. (For example, is the news story trying to get me to do or think something?)
5. Consider other points of view. (For example, what are other journalists saying about it?)
In short, always ask questions, look for convincing evidence, and make up your own mind!
Read Our Story
How can you tell if a story you’re reading is fake? A Canadian video gives some useful tips for kids in this fun animated video. How could critical thinking help fight fake news?
- A great way to learn how to be a critical thinker is to learn how to debate. Split into pairs and debate the question: are cats better than dogs? 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.)
- Create a poster which teaches kids your age how to spot fake news.