Saturday, 28 September 2013

Critical and creative thinking

How important are critical and creative thinking?

The answer: Hugely important! It's my need to question everything that drives this blog. It's like a feast set before me from which I can taste and reject at will. Critical and creative thinking allow the opportunity for endless possibilities to come into view and to be made real.

Critical and creative thinking feature prominently in the new Australian Curriculum where they are seen as different, but inseparable. School is gearing up to face the future and it's not only going to be about technology, and collaborative learning and working environments, it's also going to be about critical and creative thinking. I think critical and creative thinking are so important that I want them to underpin my program for the rest of the year.

The great thing is that young children are naturals at this. This is the time for them to start developing these habits of mind that will equip them for a challenging future in their education and in their work. Critical and creative thinking are about open-mindedness. They're about logical reasoning. They're about problem-solving, assessing, evaluating and charting new ways forward. They're about more than just answering questions. We want children to invent new questions that beg for answers. That's what critical and creative thinking are all about. What have we not yet thought about? What does the world need that it doesn't yet have?

Young children have this capacity, which makes this very exciting. They absorb facts like sponges, they process them, they question them. They constantly question, question, question. Maybe it drives you crazy. The thing is, if we can grab onto this and nurture it and keep it as part of their everyday thinking, then we are halfway there. Children will carry it with them going forward.

I've seen a strong musical interest with my four year olds, so I've decided to use this as the beginning of our journey to becoming more effective critical and creative thinkers. I'm going to encourage them to make their own instruments. The instruments are available all the time now. It's all about hands-on engagement and experimentation first. Then we start asking the children to think about the sounds that are made (what is happening), how they are made (how is it happening), and whether they like those sounds that are made (personal / emotional reflection). These conversations have already been happening and we've been documenting them.

When we have a really good grounding in this knowledge we will start to invent, create and problem-solve. We will experiment, we will bounce ideas off each other, we will transfer our knowledge to make decisions about which materials we will need to achieve our desired outcomes. Hopefully many new ideas for extending critical and creative thinking will emerge as we progress through the next three months. Children, are you ready to ask the 'ungoogleable questions'? There are so many out there, I can't wait!

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