Critical thinking questions are formulated to help develop the important skills of critical thinking in a person. But what exactly is critical thinking and why is it important to inculcate it as a part of our psyche? Critical thinking includes a set of skills that help change the way in which we think. It allows us to develop the ability to analyze, rationalize, reason, evaluate, and interpret a given situation at hand and approach a problem after having thoroughly understood it and reached a conclusion―a conclusion that goes beyond one's personal biases, thoughts and preconceived notions and is reached upon while keeping a world view in mind. In that way, critical thinking is one of the most important skill to develop, and specialized questions help in achieving it.
In simple terms, critical thinking helps to question concepts and get to the bottom of facts. It helps one understand the 'why' of everything rather than going by something by its face value or something similar to it. This, therefore, becomes a very important concept to inculcate in students and kids of impressionable minds because they can learn, and thereby apply the concept throughout their lives.
When developing and teaching critical thinking, certain things have to be kept in mind. Here are some pointers for developing these skills.
- Encourage children to voice and clarify their doubts. You need to inculcate the thinking that they can ask questions and they'll have their doubts cleared.
- Never discourage them from asking questions. Always encourage them by answering their doubts and giving them a positive response.
- When they get into the habit of asking questions, make them do the thinking―ask them questions that will get them to think and evaluate. Ask them questions like 'why' and 'what if you change this...' This will help them get to the bottom of it and understand a concept in totality.
- Teach them the importance of research and backing a theory with knowledge.
- Understand their thinking process by questioning their ways of reaching a conclusion.
- Research a difficult concept or topic together. This will encourage them further.
- Leave them to find answers on their own instead of providing ready answers. For this, making available critical thinking exercises is a good way to inculcate the skill in them.
Here are some examples of these forms of questions. These are the kind of questions that you need to be including when teaching critical thinking skills.
- Find the odd one and give the reason why. These could include a bunch of synonymous words and a single word that does not go with the list. One could also have similar concepts in a similar manner. The students have to state the word and give reasons to support their argument.
- Give them a pair of words. They have to take an alphabet from either one and convert the words into synonyms. Example―Freed=Gaze (Feed-Graze)
- Questions that take us to the base of a concept. For example―What is the difference between the egg laying styles of a cuckoo bird and a sparrow?
- Compare and contrast questions are some of the best ways to get a clarity of concepts. Example―Compare and contrast between the times of recession and financial stability.
- Using numbers is also a great way to bring in critical thinking questions. Things like, which is the missing number in the list of numbers or codes is a common way to develop critical thinking.
- Riddles and trick questions are also great ways of developing critical thinking.
These questions will help you get an insight into how to go about formulating questions of your own, whereby you can help the kids develop critical thinking.