Conscious Reflection

Blog · Jul 20, 2020

In our recent blog post, It’s time to Listen, we spoke about the growth opportunities afforded to us when we practice active listening. When we engage in open dialog about the issues of the day, we improve our understanding of others’ perspectives and increase compassion for our neighbors. Exchange of ideas and information is enriched when each contributor practices critical thinking. When ideas and concepts are considered with conscious reflection and critical thinking, we expand the horizons of the possible and grow stronger as a community.

Information on the complex issues we face today is available in many forms, from social media to news pundits. As our minds sort through the volumes of input, it’s natural to seek perspectives that reinforce our current beliefs. However, if we don’t validate information that lacks context or emphasizes sensational details, we can be prone to misinformation or deception. A more accurate and nuanced picture develops when we challenge ourselves to question our assumptions and consider new information with a reflective mind and a critical eye. As educators, we have an opportunity to infuse learning with the expectation that reflective thinking should underlie all communication.

Here are a few strategies for promoting and encouraging critical thinking and thoughtful analysis in your school culture:

When constructing and delivering lessons, fold in opportunities for students to reflect and analyze information. Allot time for students to discuss and debate multiple angles of a story or assertion. Provide thought-provoking questions to prompt subject reviews and help students to consider content through the lens of reflection. Ask students if new information easily reconciles with existing knowledge, prompt them to identify gaps in current understanding, and to look for areas which warrant further investigation. In discussions, inquire about their reasoning and evidence, and walk students through the process of locating additional evidence to support their reasoning.


1. Develop scenarios to practice critical thinking where students can easily identify which information to discard and which to pursue.
2. Apply the Socratic Method to engage students beyond simply receiving information, to engaging with what they receive. Underscore the importance of seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and assumptions, and analyzing concepts.
3. Provide a framework that can be easily incorporated into lessons and discussion, such as Goodwin and Watson’s RED model of critical thinking: Recognize Assumptions, Evaluate Arguments, and then Draw Conclusions.
4. Include reflective journaling exercises for students to practice writing out positions, giving reasons to support what they think and showing an awareness of differing points of view.
5. Facilitate peer group discussion and role play to encourage students to practice reflection and critical thinking respectfully.

    Exercises like these challenge students to practice thoughtful examination of content as a matter of course and provide opportunities for them to engage in collaborative discourse when learning about complex and rapidly changing issues. When we challenge ourselves to identify the nuance and veracity of what the read and see each day, we will be more informed and better equipped to reach solutions together.

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