Embedding critical thinking into school science lessons

At ICeL, Philip Balcaen of the University of British Columbia (BC), Canada, spoke about embedding critical thinking into science teaching in a secondary school project in BC. His presentation, titled Developing Critically Thoughtful, Media-Rich Lessons in Science, highlighted the need to develop critical thinking skills amongst youth, even while many educators who claim to be in this space do not have a sufficient understanding or definition of critical thinking.

In his paper he outlines a conceptual framework to create critically thoughtful and media-rich science learning resources. The framework is based on a model of critical thinking developed by the Critical Thinking Consortium.

This model supports critical thinking by embedding the teaching of five categories of intellectual tools into the curriculum content. The “tools for thought” include: addressing the need for focused and relevant background knowledge, criteria for judgment, thinking concepts, thinking strategies and the development of habits of mind. Ultimately this approach will develop teachers who can provide ongoing support to the process of inquiry that they have begun.

Philip Balcaen

Philip (above) believes that these “habits of the mind” need to be made explicit outcomes of a lesson. We have planned to discuss this matter further, once he has returned to Canada. The approach used in his framework has great relevance for Kusasa and its lesson formats.

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