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Ideas for Developing Critical Thinking

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    Ideas for Developing Critical Thinking

    We have a 14-year-old son who has lived in the Philippines for most of his life. He is being homeschooled by another mom who uses a Classical approach and is making great progress in most of his subjects. He is doing grade 4 math and grade 3-4 language arts. However, in 6 months, she reports he has not moved an inch in analytical/critical thinking, using literature as the primary medium. I just wondered if you might have some ideas for helping him develop there. He would much rather be active/outdoors than doing any kind of school work. He is very observant of details, especially animal behavior. He is also very talented in drawing people and animals. And he has a strong interest in understanding and defending the Catholic faith. Any ideas would be gratefully received! Thank you, Theresa

    #2
    Re: Ideas for Developing Critical Thinking

    Originally posted by TAnnable View Post
    We have a 14-year-old son who has lived in the Philippines for most of his life. He is being homeschooled by another mom who uses a Classical approach and is making great progress in most of his subjects. He is doing grade 4 math and grade 3-4 language arts. However, in 6 months, she reports he has not moved an inch in analytical/critical thinking, using literature as the primary medium. I just wondered if you might have some ideas for helping him develop there. He would much rather be active/outdoors than doing any kind of school work. He is very observant of details, especially animal behavior. He is also very talented in drawing people and animals. And he has a strong interest in understanding and defending the Catholic faith. Any ideas would be gratefully received! Thank you, Theresa

    Hi, Theresa.

    I wonder how she is testing his analytical thinking after six months.

    Some questions:

    1. Is she basing her conclusion on formal testing or observation? Even more importantly, how is she defining critical thinking? Be wary of an unintentionally progressive mindset, as this can happen to all of us. [For a provocative article on the topic, see Critical Thinking Skills.]

    2. Is he being taught in his native language? If not, challenges with literary vocabulary can certainly interfere with literary analysis!

    3. Does your son have any diagnosed learning disabilities? If so, the abstract reasoning will be assisted by ample review of factual material prior to delving more deeply into analysis. Be sure she reviews vocabulary, setting, and other aspects of the literature prior to expecting analysis of the book.

    4. Do you share the mom's concerns? For example, when you discuss topics with him informally, does your son seem unusually challenged when he tries to think abstractly?

    Some tips to integrate his own strengths and interests:

    1. Have the mom utilize drawing to foster stronger analytical thinking. She can have him illustrate aspects of literary analysis. For example, "Draw a scene illustrating the conflict between the two main characters in ____." Or "Draw one scene that illustrates character traits that helped ___ overcome obstacles he faced." Stretch him a little: "Create the setting of this story in watercolor."

    2. He enjoys apologetics, so she can give him simple assignments that engage him in discernment and abstract reasoning. He could even listen to books above his reading level, such as Mere Christianity or Orthodoxy. These would stretch his thinking. (With an audio book, he can even do this while outdoors!)

    3. Have her teach analytical thinking with books for younger children, so reading level and vocabulary do not hinder the process. For example, read books like Henny Penny. Easy children's books make fabulous avenues for higher-level literary analysis! Example: "Why should Henny Penny's friends have verified her assertion that the sky was falling, before they rushed about in needless, frantic worry and were all swallowed up by the crafty fox!?"


    Of course, none of these tips is limited to the other mom. You can engage him in these activities. If he balks at seemingly formal exercises, you can still boost analytical thinking in areas he enjoys. Discuss the homily on Sundays. Ask him analytical questions. Question, question, question. Allow him ample time to think and respond. In other words, "Go Socratic!"


    Thanks-
    Cheryl

    Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

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