We explore why it is essential that we teach young children to be critical thinkers, with Swiss International Scientific School Dubai
27 May 2021| Last updated on 21 June 2021
Critical thinking is the ability to engage in reflective, clear, independent thought, and understand the connection between ideas. It requires an ability to question ideas and assumptions, reason, and be an engaged learner.
Children who are critical thinkers can identify inconsistencies or errors in reasoning, solve problems using analysis, and determine whether information or arguments are important or relevant.
At Swiss International Scientific School Dubai, critical thinking is part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner Profile. In this high-performing IB school in Dubai, the curriculum intentionally develops critical thinking skills in all of their IB students, from age three onwards.
Critical thinking fosters creativity
Children are naturally curious. Critical thinkers maintain this sense of curiosity about the world, people, and others’ views, beliefs, or culture.
Children who are critical thinkers continually ask questions and have new ideas. Creativity is a significant trait in professional life; creative people desire positive outcomes and question assumptions. They think “out of the box.” It’s not always about generating new ideas, but ensuring solutions are useful and relevant.
Creative critical thinkers are familiar with feeling outside of their comfort zone, but they still analyse ideas to make sensible decisions.
Critical thinking promotes problem-solving
Good problem-solving skills require information analysis, knowledge resourcing, patience, and a commitment to understanding problems. It is a sought-out skill in the workplace.
Today’s children are aware early of the biggest problems plaguing our world, from climate change to poverty and the need for education and healthcare.
Good problem-solvers consider all the options comprehensively. We are seeing problem solving demonstrated in the innovative solutions young leaders have conceived to solve some of these problems.
Critical thinking fosters academic success
Critical thinking requires a consideration of all disciplines. To make good decisions and solve problems, students need to learn visualisation, observation, logic, organisation, planning, reasoning, and evaluation.
Apart from simply learning new information, students must learn to integrate, interpret, and apply the information in practice. They understand knowledge on a deeper and more lasting level, and apply it to daily life, becoming self-directed learners.
This can translate into resilience and the ability to conceive innovative opportunities, despite facing complicated or new situations.
Critical thinking develops students' communications skills
Developing our critical thinking improves how we think clearly and systematically, and express ideas. By analysing logical structure in classroom textbooks and exercising the sense of curiosity and creativity children innately possess, students improve language skills, comprehension, and presentation abilities.
Good critical thinkers do well when presenting their ideas on paper; they present their thoughts in an organised, logical, and persuasive way.
Critical thinking prepares students for the business world
All the points mentioned above are extremely relevant in the workplace today.
Students who grow up with critical thinking skills use what they learned every time they do market research, evaluate data or review proposals. It’s important for employees at all levels to make wise decisions and see the “bigger picture” of their company if they want to succeed.
Critical thinking can help when spotting trends, recognising opportunities for growth or expansion, and evaluating the competition.
Tomorrow’s workplace relies on the speed of information, technology, and innovation. The problem-solving capabilities that go with critical thinking are valuable for changing and fast-growing economies. Employers demand workers to interpret, analyse, evaluate, reason, and make assumptions in time-limited, high stake situations.
Critical thinking habits that manifest into better work decisions can trump the experience or skills of others.
In a World Economic Forum report, The Future of Jobs, experts found that analytical thinking and creativity as two of the main skills that will be in demand in 2022.
And in The Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum looks at the teaching of critical thinking as one element to assess how ready a country is for the future of work.
In the Survey of Employers report, conducted by the Association for American Universities and Colleges, SISD quotes: "93% of employers say that a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a candidates’ undergraduate degree."
"More than 75% want higher education to place more emphasis on critical thinking, complex problem solving, written and oral communication and applied knowledge," the study added.
Critical thinking prepares students for independent life
Teaching students to be critical thinkers allows them to learn how to think for themselves, in life and beyond education. By making sense of the world around them and informed decisions, students gain confidence and resilience as they make mistakes, helping them learn from experience.
Another facet of critical thinking involves self-reflection and evaluation. By justifying their values, opinions, and lifestyle, students learn to evaluate themselves positively and remain lifelong learners.
At SISD, the school takes academic, personal, and professional success seriously for their students and aim to equip them with the best skills possible so that they succeed in life. SISD believes that the IB is the best education programme to equip students with the skills needed for life in the 21st century.
The Swiss International Scientific School's IB programme curriculum encourages critical thinking and discourse instead of traditional memorisation of facts and figures. In addition, their bilingual education offers students all benefits bilingualism provides: improved executive function and better cognitive flexibility, all in service of nurturing the student who will become well-adjusted to working for the future.