Critical thinking, why is it so difficult to teach?

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Critical thinking is the ability to apply reasoning and logic to new or unfamiliar ideas, opinions, and situations. Teachers attempt to teach critical thinking assuming that it is a skill, like performing a pirouette, and that once learned, it can be applied in any situation.

Unfortunately research suggests that thinking is not that sort of skill. Critical thinking is difficult both to do and to teach because:

(1) Critical thinking is not a skill, but is context-dependent;

(2) Certain metacognitive strategies may be learned to make critical thinking more likely;

(3) Ability to think critically depends on domain knowledge and practice.

Why do we need critical thinking in school or college?

  • It allows opinions to be formed and students to engage with material beyond a superficial level. This is essential to writing a discursive essay or close reading and having an intelligent discussion with your professor or classmates.
  • It allows you to generate worthy arguments and back them up. It allows original thought.
  • It helps in self-evaluation and evaluation of others work. This leads to better grades.

Critical thinking in Dance

The use of critical thinking methods in dance classes is a mechanism of teaching that promotes problem solving, reasoning skills, analysis, examination, and decision making. Critical thinking is a necessary aspect of excellent teaching and learning as it allows educators to move beyond merely teaching skills, providing opportunities for meaningful learning that will stay with students for the long term. By employing appropriate strategies such as asking the right questions, having open and significant discussions, utilizing small groups, creative projects, and journaling, educators can enhance the comprehension and learning of all students. Critical thinking allows students to adapt choreography to fit their bodies, the studio, space between other dances and the meaning of their performance. Critical thinking allows the dancer to understand their bodies and the movement it allows.

I was not aware of critical thinking as a standard component of the traditional dance class structure. While I firmly believe that my education in dance utilised critical thinking, among other forms of engagement, the language was not openly applied in dance pedagogy vocabulary. The first time during this research process that I was confronted with the term critical thinking, I though perhaps I had not related it to dance. In fact, my very analysis of my training in dance proved I had worked critically but the advent of CfE means all students will openly use the term critical thinking in all their subjects. The problem is that students cannot carry the same skill from subject to subject and so proving that critical thinking in contest specific.


The Thinking Student’s Guide to College by Andrew Roberts (the source of several of the seven ways to think more critically)
What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain (the source of several of the seven ways to think more critically)
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (the source for the C.P. Snow quote about Einstein and the information about Isaac Newton).





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