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.
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.
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.