Teaching Critical Thinking

April 10, 2015 • Volume 25, Issue 14
Should schools do more to foster analytical skills?
By Marcia Clemmitt


High school students in Las Cruces, N.M., hold a walkout (AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News/Robin Zielinski)
High school students in Las Cruces, N.M., hold a walkout on March 2, 2015, to protest New Mexico's use of the new PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) tests. Critics say standardized tests emphasize rote memorization rather than critical thinking. (AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News/Robin Zielinski)

As standardized tests assume a larger and larger role in elementary and secondary schools, many education specialists and corporate hiring managers are expressing concern about students' ability to engage in critical thinking. Also known as “higher-order thinking,” it includes the capacity to examine and evaluate ideas, solve problems, question assumptions, identify biases and work collaboratively. Warnings from technology analysts that computers could soon take over all routine jobs have led some education experts to conclude that teaching inquiry and problem-solving skills might best prepare students for the 21st-century workplace. The new Common Core standards, which many states are adopting to set nationally consistent learning goals for math and language arts, and another multistate initiative, the Next Generation Science Standards, call for more concept-based learning and thinking-skills instruction. But education reformers question whether either effort will push schools to do more to foster critical-thinking skills and to lessen policymakers' reliance on standardized tests as a way to measure education quality.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 10, 2015  Teaching Critical Thinking
Aug. 24, 2001  Teacher Shortages
Oct. 17, 1997  Teacher Education
Sep. 29, 1995  Teaching History
May 04, 1990  Should Teaching Be Made into a Profession?
Apr. 20, 1984  Teachers: the Push for Excellence
Sep. 12, 1975  Education's Return to Basics
Jan. 25, 1961  Teaching by Machine
May 01, 1957  Teaching Resources
Chemistry and Physics
Computers and the Internet
Education Policy
Education Standards and Testing
General Employment and Labor
Research in Education
Science and Mathematics Education