Critical Thinking skills – A common language?


I teach Critical Thinking A level to year 10/11/12/13. 

The students love studying it. It gives them skills that can be applied across their studies, from GCSE well into degree level.

I’ve had an ex-student message me telling me that in the first year of her Law degree, her Critical Thinking skills put her ahead of most of her peers. 

So why don’t we teach these skills to all students in a coherent, common way? 

From what I can see one subject teaches a student to write in one way and another subject teaches a different way but essentially they are learning the same skill. Wouldn’t it be sensible to teach them using the same language? the same acronyms? the same ‘rules’?

Maybe this is part of what Learning to Learn was trying to do but in most cases didn’t do very well as it was generally taught separate from all subjects when it actually needed to be taught coherently by all within subjects.

What should they learn?

Firstly, all students should be taught effective reasoning, the skills to analyse texts and to write effective arguments.

Secondly, they should be able to assess sources for their credibility and reliability

These should be taught using the same language.

Finally, these skills should be embedded throughout their studies. They should be able write a persuasive argument in Science, Geography & PE. They should be able to use the same ‘tools’ to analyse a text in History, English & German.

There is also a possibility that these skills can provide some structure in the looming absence of subject assessment levels. Could all subjects agree that giving valid reasoning is a skill, and to develop this through examples & evidence as a ‘higher’ skill? Could we all agree that a student that can write a coherent, reasoned argument with supporting elements, considering a counter is a high level skill? 

I think Critical Thinking skills linked to subject knowledge has the potential to pull subjects together whilst giving subjects their needed autonomy.



4 thoughts on “Critical Thinking skills – A common language?

  1. I completely agree – I have also taught CT to the same age group for a good number of years. Those who engage find it extremely useful and interesting. It enhances their study skills in other subjects. I deliver a CPD session to colleagues on it – with excellent response. My school has just decided to scrap it. There’s sense.

  2. Pingback: Quick Post: Is ‘critical thinking’ in education ideologically neutral? | Only The Sangfroid

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