Critical thinking and problem solving are skills required to increase the growth in children’s learning and development, especially if our goal is to prepare a community of effective life-long learners. Researchers find that the definitions of each of these skills vary among the education community, but the necessity of student acquisition of these skills is demanded in the learning process. Critical thinking and problem solving offer an extensive, fundamental skill to the educating of children. This skill set is necessary for student understanding, development, and learning. It has been found that the internalization and automatic use of these skills would greatly increase student opportunity as future learners provide insight of understanding of concepts and provide an alternative way of thinking to a demanding world of self-monitoring, reflecting, and knowing.
If these skills are necessary, we ask, why is it that all students don’t have them? In my paper, I will define critical thinking and problem solving. Then I will elaborate on the necessity of teachers teaching students critical thinking and problem solving. I will conclude with the importance of these skills as it pertains to the development of student learning and effectiveness of student performance.
Provided are the three working definitions of critical thinking and problem solving. In 2008, Sezer’s research defined critical thinking as, “the evaluation and reflecting of what you know to be true” (p. 349). Later McCollister and Sayler (2010) defined it as, “carefully analyzing the way we think, with the purpose of improving it” (p. 41). The definition for problem solving will stand alone and is simply stated by Martinez (2006) as “problem solving is what you do when you don’t know what to doing” (p. 697).
Requirements, format, and the need
Critical thinking calls for evaluating and questioning those things that you may have known to be true for many years. Rethinking and validating these concepts exposes students, learners, and teachers to another view that may cause emotions to increase during discussions. Critical thinking involves the area of cognition, so the learner and teacher must be at some level of knowing (background on the topic) when embarking on this task.
Also, teaching or facilitating critical thinking exercises challenges the role of the teacher and increases the level of discomfort. The facilitation format is uncomfortable. This specifically affects the teacher whose position for classroom motivation, directing, and instructing is done predominately by standing in front of the classroom (Brookfield, 2010). However, he found that this “sage on the stage” practice can be overcome by developing the personality of the teacher. He also indicates that the Teacher of the Year or other charismatic leaders can motivate and gain the learner‘s interest and maintain motivation by the “force of their personalities” Brookfield (2010, p. 235).