16. Critical and Creative Thinking

9 08 2010

Mr. Cray Staggs of the  US Department of State, Senior English Language Fellow for Beijing delivered a lecture on  Critical and Creative Thinking during the Fifth International and Forty-first Annual ELT@I  Conference, organized by the Department of English, Anna Adarsh College for Women, Anna Nagar, Chennai from 5th to 7th August 2010.

The following are excepts from his lecture:

Critical and Creative thinking is a necessary skill for everyone.  Creative thinking can be  seen as creating many possible solutions to a problem situation. Critical thinking  can be seen as being able to test, assess and evaluate the possible solution. What is important is to help and  encourage  our learners to ask questions. A healthy skepticism and  a curious mind is essential for learners.

* The critical thinker would be more interested in focussing on :

   clarity vs  unclear                 precision vs  imprecision               specific vs vague

Given below are examples of  tasks that involve thinking:

* Conducting a debate about an issue of special interest  ( Analyse / synthesize)

* Write a biography of a person you are studying about (Recall knowledge/ Comprehend/ Apply)

* Create a new product, name it and plan  a marketing campaign (Application / Synthesis)

* Design a questionnaire  to gather information ( Application/ Analysis/ Synthesis)

The pedagogical implication  for including Critical and Creative thinking would be the following :

* We need to have in our curriculum scope for problem-based tasks and encourage open ended questions

* Teachers should focus on classroom dynamics

* The classroom tone is also important

* The kind of questions asked by the teacher is very important.

Incorporating and ensuring the teaching of critical thinking skills should be regarded as essential  in educational programmes. English and foreign language courses should advocate classroom design that promotes not only language skills but also creative and critical thinking skills. For the EFL educator its application would mean  making learners seek alternatives, make inferences, pose questions and solve problems.




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