Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Editor's Corner

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Editor's Corner

Article excerpt

Thinking Critically

After almost four decades of teaching, I often find myself thinking about the impact science teachers have on students. What do we hope students learn? Long after the details of the Krebs cycle or Newton's laws fade from memory, what remains?

More and more, I realize that the most important thing students can learn in their science classes is the ability to think critically. It's not that science content is unimportant: The next generation of scientists and engineers certainly will need deep understanding of the big ideas of science, as will all citizens in this increasingly technological age. Still, if students don't develop the habit of critical, analytical thinking, they will never achieve meaningful understanding. A head full of scientific facts and ideas is not enough: The ability to think critically gives these ideas meaning and allows them to flourish and grow.

Despite a heritage dating to the dialogues of Socrates--the word "critical" derives from the Greek "kriticos" (discerning judgment) and "kriterion" (standards)--and the Kalana Sutta of Buddhist literature, critical thinking remains an underdeveloped habit. Teacher preparation programs value critical thinking but generally fail to teach it (Paul, Elder, and Bartell 1997). Uncritical thought pervades news reporting, politics, TV, and other areas of popular culture. Students and the general public too often rely on undisciplined thinking, prejudice, and untested assumptions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.