At thinkLaw we’re on a mission to support and foster the development of critical thinking skills in ALL students. As part of our work this past fall we surveyed over 800 middle and high school students. We asked them about their critical thinking skills and habits.    

We’re sharing with you these results and our reflections on the student responses over the next few weeks in a five part blog series titled, “The State of Critical Thinking Address.”  This is the fifth and final part of that series.  If you need to catch up, you can read the first part on defining critical thinking click here, the second post about perseverance here, the third post on inquisitiveness here, and the fourth post on self-confidence here.

Part 5: Act Your Age, Not Your Shoe Size

Maturity can be a major issue within a classroom. For children and adolescents immaturity is developmentally appropriate. But just because a stage is developmentally appropriate doesn’t mean that we aren’t working to help students reach the next level. It’s developmentally appropriate for a 2 year old to wear diapers, but we don’t want them to stay there. We’re actively working to move them on to the next stage of life.

Too often, people never make the transition to have maturity in critical thinking. Need proof? Go to any message board on any news article. There are an abundance of keyboard warriors and bloggers who like to loudly blast their unsupported opinions. People are unwilling to change their opinions even when presented with new information. All too often, the art of conversation and debate have been lost as talking heads just yell over one another. As educators, we want better for our students. We want to push them to the next level to have maturity when it comes to their lives as critical thinkers.  

What Students Have to Say: Maturity

How do students show maturity in their critical thinking? Are they willing to change their opinions when faced with new information.  In our survey 82% of our students said that they thought they would consider changing their minds in light of new evidence.

Disagreeing with dignity is an area of struggle for many adults. We asked our students if they feel upset when someone tells them that their opinion is wrong. 42% of students surveyed agreed that they do get upset when they are told they are wrong.

When asked to rate the statement, “Before I make up my mind on an issue I like to look at all the different sides of the argument” 85% of students indicated that they agreed. This indicates, at least an awareness, among students of the need for multiple sources of information. If the awareness exists, the next step for educators is to focus on fact checking and reliable sources of information.

So how do students approach the collection of information? What do students do when they hear a story from a friend or the internet? For 22% of our students their inclination is to believe the story is true. 42% said that they will do their own fact checking, 47% will ask others for their opinions, 48% want to know the source of the information, and 71% will ask questions for more information.

Throughout this series we’ve defined critical thinking skills and examined critical thinking dispositions. After reflecting perhaps the most important question is what now?  Come over to the Critical Thinking Champions Facebook Group to discuss some very practical solutions and strategies that can be implemented in your classroom today!

To order a critical thinking assessment for your students or to learn how your school or organization can adopt thinkLaw’s standards-aligned program that helps educators teach critical thinking to all students, please click here to schedule a time to speak with someone on the thinkLaw team or call us now at (702) 318-7512. Join us on our next webinar: Thinking Like a Lawyer: Powerful Strategies to Teach Critical Thinking to All Students

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