Critical thinking is often perceived as the skill which is crucial for the 21st century.
That is why educators and parents want children to develop necessary critical thinking skills as early as possible.
Although teaching critical thinking to children as young as four is possible and in fact recommended, developing advanced thinking skills that early is challenging and requires well-designed instructional approaches.
Such approaches are difficult for teachers and even more so for parents.
One of the most effective methods of developing high-level skills is varied instructional questioning.
Questions which require children to apply, analyze, evaluate and create promote children’s critical thinking and learning. The great thing about such questions is that they can be asked during reading-aloud, parent-led discussions or simply a walk in the park.
Macie Hall in a Guide to Bloom’s Taxonomy provided a useful example how the questions can be formed on the basis of Bloom’s hierarchy of cognitive skills. She used the well-known story about Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Remembering: List the items used by Goldilocks while she was in the Bears’ house.
Understanding: Explain why Goldilocks liked Baby Bear’s chair the best?
Applying: Demonstrate what Goldilocks would use if she came to your house.
Analyzing: Compare this story to reality. What events could not really happen?
Evaluating: Propose how the story would be different if it was Goldilocks and the Three Fish.
Creating: Judge whether Goldilocks was good or bad. Defend your opinion.
Although many parents ask children questions during educational activities, usually such questions enforce recall of previously learnt facts and promote merely literal comprehension. For example, questions starting with: who, what, where, when and why are ubiquitous. The problem is that they only require children to use memorization in order to respond.
Most educators would agree that questions matter most then the answers in early education. However, higher-level questions which require from children more intensive mental effort are infrequent in parent-led discussions
(also surprisingly rare in classrooms). For instance, parents seldom ask questions which require children to criticize, defend, justify, prioritize, or interpret. And such questions are important for developing critical thinking.
Bloom’s Taxonomy can provide parents with a useful framework for developing children’s advanced thinking skills.
It can guide parents in the development of effective questioning strategies. How it can be done, I will write in the second part of this blogpost.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is often presented in the form of a pyramid, thus emphasizes a hierarchical nature of the framework. It makes the taxonomy prone to misinterpretation. For example, this might suggest that the upper part of the pyramid (higher-level skills) is more important than the lower part. On the contrary, low-level skills (knowledge and comprehension) are necessary for the development of higher level skills (applying, analyzing, evaluating, creating). Also, the hierarchical representation might suggest the linear progression of the skills. However, it is often possible to involve children in creative processes before applying or evaluating knowledge.
Below is the revised model of Bloom’s Taxonomy with six levels related to the Cognitive Process Dimension.
The two lower levels; remember and comprehension, are clear and don’t require explanation.
The top four levels are associated with the higher-level thinking skill. Children who are asked questions formed on the basis of these levels will have to solve real-life problems (apply), predict, look for causes, effects and motifs (analyse), defend an opinion, prioritise (evaluate) and propose new solutions (create).
David R. Krathwohl A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overviewhttps://www.depauw.edu/files/resources/krathwohl.pdf
Model created by: Rex Heer Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching Updated January, 2012 Licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.