Solving New Problems


By: Megan Prats


Critical thinking is not memorization nor guessing. Critical thinking is navigating the infinite realm of knowledge to arrive to a good solution to any problem. Thus, in order to put critical thinking in your lessons, the questions that you ask the student should be new to her.

Problems that the student has never seen before catapult her into the unknown. When thrown into the unknown, the student cannot rely on memorization. Also, because you’re present, she cannot guess her way though the new mental space. Thus, new problems force the student to use her critical thinking skills to solve.

For instance, I’ve been working on the subjunctive mode in Spanish and my teacher provided me for homework a sentence with a structure I’d never seen before. Because I couldn’t just recognize the subjunctive or indicative from its appearance, I had to start thinking to arrive to an answer.

Thus, I began asking myself, “Are there any triggers in the first clause, second, third?”. After going through my analysis, I arrived to an answer thanks to my critical thinking skills.

Providing the student with new problems requires for you to learn what the student knows and doesn’t. So, you should develop these questions in accordance with the customized curriculum.

So, if you want to do critical thinking development, a great place to start is with new problems.

© Megan Prats 2015


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