Kids Write: The Value of Thinking Critically


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I have such wonderfully precocious students! Here are a few of my Grade 8 students on the value of critical thinking. There’s a lot here that other students could use. There’s also a lot many adults could learn.

(Bar the most basic editing, the words and sentiments are their own:)

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Brishan:

Critical thinking has helped me by making me think and use my common sense instead of just writing out a bunch of nonsense. It has also helped me in many other ways such as sport, where it made me look at situations in a more calm and collected way. I am now able to make the best of a situation and look at how this mistake would help me in the future so I don’t make the same mistake. I now know what was fake on the internet and I am able to ask more innovative and interesting questions when doing a task on the internet.

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Camryn:
It is important to think critically, because you have to be able to think for yourself and not just believe with everybody else thinks. Ask the questions ‘Why?’, ‘When?’, ‘Who?’, ‘What?’ and ‘How?’… Don’t limit your ability to think. If you are assigned to do a research project, don’t copy and paste the first thing you see…

Keeghan:
By owning up and saying you are wrong you are already growing rather than seeing that you are wrong and still not admitting that you are wrong. Take a situation you were stuck in and your response to it. Then analyse and then assess it. I, myself once thought I knew everything to a topic, but I challenged myself to see if I was actually right, but then I realised that I only knew only a tenth of the topic, so what did I do? I studied it harder, found out more. I grew off of that. With critical thinking you could be facing challenges that you thought hard are now easy. Not only will it help you grow mentally but you will notice that you are growing in many other ways.

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Kyla:
This year we focused a lot on critical thinking, we learnt to observe things in our own way rather than just accepting what we read. We did a lot of analysis of web sites. I learnt a lot through that process. Such as: ask your self could this really be real? An example of that for me was when I came across a website telling me that there were octopuses living in trees in South America. When I looked through the article it seemed pretty legit, the way they phrased it, the way is was set out, the source, and the pictures. I could have just accepted it, but instead I asked myself if it could really be true. I didn’t just believe what they said. An octopus lives in the sea, now how in the world would it get up a tree? I mean really! An open mind is the key to critical thinking. Taking in all the info possible, discarding the rubbish and filing in the facts. Keep an open mind to all the knowledge you can accumulate. Analysis is one of the biggest aspects of critical thinking. Never accept what someone else is telling you always find out for yourself, if you don’t question what will you learn?

Katelijn:
Earlier this year when we were evaluating websites I realised that you had to be extra careful with the information provided. By using 4 easy steps in critical thinking you could figure out what was reliable and what was complete rubbish. Critical thinking also builds up your character. The sooner you admit you were wrong about something, the better you can begin to deal with it.

Kyle:
Critical thinking is the ability to make intelligent and educated decisions about things that we read or hear. And then we can decide whether it is something that is possible and believable or if it is just something that has been made up by other people. Critical thinking also helps one assess a situation and to make important decisions by weighing out the pros and cons of the decision. For example, my brother was given a choice from my father: he could either get a new car or he could get the amount of money the car would have cost and he would have to invest that money, so he assessed the situation and made a decision to take the money and invest it for the future.

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Kayleigh:
Critical thinking is going way beyond what you actually feel and seeking for a deeper answer, and not believing anything until you prove it. In computers this year, we got challenged a lot with everything we did. Which is a good thing because we learnt not everything is how it seems… This is so important, it teaches us so much more than what we think of at first glance, and it brings the basics of thinking to a whole new level. Instead of just accepting everything we hear and see, we stop and think about it. Is that actually possible? Does it make sense? There’s so much more than meets the eye. The value of this skill is amazing, seeing the small things and looking at it in a deeper perspective.
This year we faced many challenges, learning to do things differently, but we faced it in a new light and saw things differently for a change, and thinking about it (critically, of course) in the end, it’s all about growing up – and we wouldn’t learn who we are or what we want to be without a little bit of thought about the matter.

Liam:
Critical thinking is probably one of the most undervalued things you can think of. Nowadays people are sheep. Using other people’s information, not thinking for themselves and making mistakes that impact on them negatively. Critical thinking is about asking questions, challenging people and thinking for yourself. In many subjects we are asked to make projects using the internet, many people use other people’s information and copy and paste. But this doesn’t help them, they are not learning anything and they are not thinking for themselves. In order to be a critical thinker you will need to analyse things more carefully. Being a critical thinker you will be able to think for yourself and do things for yourself.

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Paige:
Critical thinking is about looking at situations and analysing them. It’s like judging something to make sure you get the best value out of it. Critical thinking is about seeing the truth in the information and not the false information (separating fact from fiction). Other than finding fact and fiction from the cyber world there is also some in the real world. We judge people because our “friends” judge them to see the best result of a reaction instead of finding the truth and asking why. They are judging them. Instead we all follow the queen bee around believing every word she/he says. I think we should put a stop to that and start thinking critically and to not judge people before thinking carefully for ourselves.
Before Mr H’s classes I never thought of actually analysing my Google results. He has also taught me that this skill can be used on myself when I look at my digital footprint! To assess what I put on the internet and analyse what’s already there. Is this going to affect me when I’m older and looking for a job or is it going to give a false impression of me? Well I can tell you right now if you search me on the internet all you will find is a picture of me and my friends at the Grade 7 farewell smiling. I have also learnt that when on the internet DON’T take anything for granted someone could be watching!

Pearl:
We need to learn to think for yourself… If you don’t think for yourself, who will?

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Sabine:
Critical thinking involves so many things that help people to see things in different perspectives and to think creatively. This year we all came to our first year of college still thinking that we would get away with just copying and pasting, but thankfully we all got to see the light. Copying and pasting is firstly plagiarism and it doesn’t achieve anything. Critical thinking has taught me that you need to look at things differently, and to form your own opinions and conclusions.

Savannah:
If we did not have critical thinking everyone would be gullible. An example of critical thinking is: analysing situations instead of jumping right into conclusions. A tip for critical thinking is never believe what they say because they could be lying to you, so the solution is to go and research it for yourself.

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Sipho:
Critical thinking is a very valuable skill. It helps you use common sense because I remember we had an assessment that required us to open a hyperlink to an article about the first pregnant man. The Grade 7 Sipho would have believed everything just because it was on a website with pictures and such, but using the criteria of critical thinking helped me to see it was untrue. Critical thinking helps you to not believe what they all say because sadly, in modern society people lie to get other people interested.

Suriyan:
When I first walked through the door and into the computers classroom I didn’t realize that my thinking and state of mind would change. Before I started computers I did what people told me do and I never questioned anything anyone said until mister Hampton Cole (my computers teacher) told me about critical thinking. From that day on I questioned almost everything and everything seemed more clearer. For example, I noticed even the smartest are wrong sometimes and that everyone had their own flaws and made their own mistakes. I have to admit I didn’t have much courage or intellectual perseverance but as soon as I started to question and think for myself I gained more courage. Critical thinking is about questioning, yes, but also finding a way for you to comprehend and form your own way of thinking that is the best way for you.

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Vashist
I have had an amazing year in my computers class, especially the critical thinking section. It taught me not to be limited to what I was thinking. I used to be very negative about myself saying “I can’t do this, it’s impossible” or “I will never be as smart as him”. But after learning about critical thinking, I found out ways to overcome my negativity by persevering and never giving up. What I think critical thinking is, is thinking in new ways to find out something you never knew or solving a problem in a different way. If ever I come across a situation I would think about it carefully, I will find the loophole and solve it, and if there wasn’t a loophole I wouldn’t be thinking critically would I?

Yumna
Critical thinking (to me) is being able to ask why, or saying “prove it” and not stopping ‘til valid proof is given. I think that critical thinking involves (obviously) the use of your brain. Critical thinking is not saying “no that’s wrong!” to everything , but instead asking ‘why?’ to things that you think are false or in your eyes not proven properly. Here’s an example: In our set work this year, Flowers for Algernon, a man with an IQ of 68 had an operation to triple his intelligence! Now he may not have been the smartest person in the world , but he really understood people and was great socially (so he was smart socially). Getting back to the topic, I think that the IQ tests given to people are inaccurate because I don’t believe that you can measure intelligence because:
• Firstly what is intelligence???? So if you don’t know what it is, how can u measure it !!!
• Secondly I don’t think it’s fair, as some people may be horrible at maths and science , but may be amazing with the violin, and will one day be playing with a symphony orchestra and making beautiful music.

Now , I could go on … but the point I am trying to make is , this is an example of critical thinking, questioning things you don’t agree with (just let’s not be rude while doing it!).

Dimitri:
I decided that I would try and admit when I was wrong and admit mistakes in my work or thinking. I decided to keep an open mind and try to learn more. Then I came across an interesting situation where I was playing some League Of Legends, and someone on my team said that I was really bad at the game and I should “uninstall” it. I immediately retaliated and we started to fight each other rather than fighting the enemy. This lead to us losing that game. After the game I decided to analyse it in order to improve at League. After I watched my replay bit by bit, I found that my performance was quite bad that game. I found that I constantly made mistakes, and that I kept making the same mistakes and refused to admit my mistakes. I realised how ignorant I was being and I decided to at least hear other people out, even if they are offensive like the guy I outlined above. I decided to accept ‘suggestions’ about my gameplay, and I went into the next game with this mindset. And sure enough, I performed much better, with an ally who gave me some tips on what to do and what not to do, and we won that game as a team. This is what critical thinking can do for you.

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They are a smart bunch, aren’t they?

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Don’t forget to look me up on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SeanHCole

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About Sean Hampton-Cole

Fascinated by thinking & why it goes wrong➫ (Un)teacher ➫iPadologist ➫Humanist ➫Stirrer ➫Edupunk ➫Synthesist ➫Introvert ➫Blogger ➫Null Hypothesist.
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2 Responses to Kids Write: The Value of Thinking Critically

  1. Pingback: Left Hand of Darkness: How I Learn (+Ten Blogs You Should Be Reading) | : the readiness is all

  2. Trishpp says:

    This article strangely made me sad. The skills you have taught these youngsters are invaluable but 99.9% of youngsters in our schools progress through the usual sausage machine never getting these opportunities.

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