How to Develop Critical AND Creative Thinking Skills (video transcript)
Have you ever thought about how your kids think? Are you wondering if good thinking just naturally develops as your kids age or if thinking needs some strategic steps in order to grow? Is there a way to develop critical thinking skills AND creative thinking skills? And, can this work for homeschoolers?!
Yes! There are very specific steps you can follow when it comes to helping your kids improve their level of thinking. I’m going to share with you what others shared with me when I began my homeschooling journey 3 decades ago.
It’s called Bloom’s Taxonomy, named after Benjamin Bloom. His work provided educators a systematic approach in helping student develop more complex levels of thinking. In 2001, a revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy was released, making it even easier for teachers (including US!) to understand and use.
And this is how it goes:
#1) Remembering information—being able to recall it
#2) Understanding information—being able to explain it
#3) Applying information—being able to use it in new ways
#4) Analyzing information—being able to distinguish different parts of it
#5) Evaluating information—being able to defend concepts or ideas from it
#6) Creating information—being able to create something new with it
Okay, let’s flesh this out a bit more, shall we?
Remembering. Let’s say you just read The Tale of Peter Rabbit out loud to your kids. To find out if they remember what they heard, you could ask them to tell you the story. They could list the events of the story, they could tell you the names of the characters involved, they could even describe how scared Peter was in Mr. MacGregor’s garden.
This is the first level of thinking. It’s being able to recall information that’s been learned.
Next is Understanding. It is asks our kids to go a step beyond just remembering. To find out if your kids understand the story you read, ask them to retell it to you in their own words (that’s called “narration,”), to describe Mr. MacGregor’s garden, or to explain why Peter decided not to talk to the cat by the pond. Or, have your kids draw a picture from the story.
The third level is Applying the information. This means using what they’ve learned in new ways. For instance, ask your kids for their opinions on WHY Peter went to the garden. They might enjoy doing a dramatic presentation of this story, using items found in your house as props. Or, one of your kids could be an investigative journalist who interviews BOTH Peter Rabbit and Mr. MacGregor for a magazine article on what rabbits do to gardens.
The next level is Analyzing the information. Ask your students what THEIR response would have been if they had been Peter Rabbit. What if they had been Mr. MacGregor? And, what if they had been Peter’s mom? Then, have them compare this to the characters in the story. Ask them to compare Peter to his siblings. . . what are the distinguishing characteristics of these two sets of bunnies?
Fifth is Evaluating. Ask your older kids whether they think this story actually happened. What reasons can they give? Why might Beatrix Potter have written this story? Who might benefit from this story, in your student’s opinion? Is the moral of this story true? Valuable? Worth the telling?
The final step in this system of thinking is Creating something new. For students at this level, they might create a poem or skit based on The Tale of Peter Rabbit. They might create a strategic board game or an outdoor action game based on a farmer’s struggle to keep bunnies out of his garden. They could create a cartoon or design a T-Shirt (like “I survived the garden”). . . They could compose a song, choreograph a dance, or sculpt an art piece.
Do you see how, at each step, there is an increasing challenge to the students’ thinking? Though fun, it is developing something much deeper.
Isn’t that exciting? This is usable information you can put to work right now with your kids.
And, it’s such an important component in giving our kids a truly great education, that I decided to incorporate Bloom’s Taxonomy into my History Revealed curriculum, to help students grow in their critical thinking skills AND their creative thinking skills. By the way, when you add the 8 intelligences to the mix—which we did—it becomes REALLY effective!