Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Critical Thinking and Mentoring Minds

One of the most important assets for a creative writer is not only a great imagination and enhanced creativity, but also something my college English instructor valued – critical thinking – the ability to assess a situation using facts to creatively arrive at a solution.

Memorizing dates and situations doesn't work for every student, and it certainly doesn't help them LEARN. When students learn, they access that portion of their brains that connects the dots. Learning must make sense. Throw a bunch of facts at students, read to them from texts, and their ability to retain information drops substantially. By engaging the student in the learning process, the student discovers learning to be exciting as well as entertaining.

I took a college class once in which the instructor, who taught computer programming, wrote information on the board and then skipped off to his office for the rest of the class to read books and drink coffee. Though I got a B in that class, I still don't know how to program. Had he stuck around and actually engaged all of his students in the learning process, I might now know how to design my own web sites.

An algebra instructor I had – also in college – broke down math problems for me in a way nobody ever had all through grammar school or high school. Taking apart the problems and telling me that certain words could be substituted for symbols opened my mind in such a way that I no longer dreaded "word problems" because I could now decipher their codes. Why did none of my math teachers use his teaching strategies?

Critical thinking is so important. Students would enjoy the learning process more if teachers demanded critical thinking in every subject. One online source, Mentoring Minds, offers educational teaching products for math, reading, science, vocabulary, writing, and so much more, to enhance a student's critical thinking abilities.

To learn is to think and not to memorize facts. Critical thinking is a skill that allows people to assess situations using reason and logic. Writers who use critical thinking will never run out of ideas, because critical thinking stimulates the brain to produce more and more of them.

Creative thinking should be viewed as an essential supplement to, though not a replacement for, critical thinking. Lloyd P. Provost & R. M. Sprout, Quality Progress (August 1996) 

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