He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” This is a Chinese proverb very relevant today. As it says, powerful questions are the key to critical thinking. When we ask the right questions, we succeed as a thinker. Active thinking rather than passive acceptance of facts make students critical thinkers. Critical Thinking is not just a “nice to have” skill, but essential. Traditional concepts of learning are giving way to active thinking and learning process.

Text-based passive learning is losing its charm. The modern student needs to have the ability to separate fact from opinion. The goal of education is redefined to promoting critical thinking in students, instead of repeating everything like a parrot. Critical Thinking promotes creativity and enhances language and presentation skills. Thinking clearly and systematically can improve the way we express our ideas. Learning how to analyse the logical structure of texts helps with reading comprehension and problem-solving skills, both of which play an important role in standardized assessment tests. Questions on analytical, verbal or mathematical reasoning skills, written analysis, and communication tests are a few other examples.

Critical thinking can be infused into lessons throughout all disciplines by utilizing in-depth questioning and evaluation of both data and sources. These types of activities could be incorporated into the normal instructional time, without taking any additional time. It can be given as games or puzzles related to the topic of discussion to eliminate the monotony of a class. Introduce “Socratic Questioning”, the process of disciplined questioning that triggers thinking. Ask thought-provoking questions to stimulate students to scrutinize ideas logically and arrive at the right answers. Here the teacher feigns ignorance of the topic and asks the student to analyse concepts, distinguish between facts and assumptions and give solutions to the problems.

It is important for us to understand that in order to engage students in critical thinking, we need to act as facilitators allowing open discussions and encouraging a more free thought process, to create in them an understanding that thinking critically does not always end with a right answer, but instead sometimes ends with more questions. To be familiar with some simple exercises to develop critical thinking skills please watch a very informative short video following the link: https://youtu.be/1QJ2vNJPWa0

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