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Students may have fun playing around with such activities, but may not actually address content in a meaningful, purposeful way, nor actually engage in the higher order thinking intended.
How can we manage all this within the constraints of assessment-driven standardized curriculum and instruction?
How can we truly engage even our most creative and advanced thinkers in analytical thinking, making informed judgments and evaluation based on critical analysis, and the creation of innovative ideas, perspectives, and products that actually solve problems?
In order to teach any skill or content effectively, we must first have a clear understanding of the nature and purpose of the skills and/or content to be taught.
Employing critical and creative thinking strategies without first understanding what is involved in these skills and processes or without connecting these thinking skills to appropriate content is likely to result in missing the point and wasting time.
This sequence of activities involves students in playfully generating and examining data in a variety of ways, requiring both divergent thinking (fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality) and convergent thinking (evaluation, providing justification for choices, drawing conclusions based on evidence presented).
The activities can be adapted for almost any content at various levels of complexity: literary or historical events or characters, contemporary or historic issues or problems (literature, social studies); concepts or operations, inventions or discoveries (math or science); or almost any other content that is a focus of study.Data become meaningful only when individuals perform certain mental operations on those data." (Taba, 1971, pp.240–241) We recognize the need for gifted learners to develop and practice higher-order critical and creative thinking skills that go beyond fundamental acquisition of information."Children do not develop their thinking skills by memorizing the products of adults’ thinking.Children develop these thinking skills by manipulating ideas, critically examining them, and trying to combine them in new ways.In general, the process includes these steps and thinking processes: Depending on the complexity of the concepts and/or data to be used as a basis for the activities, all of these steps could be used in a single lesson, or the sequence could be broken into several subsequent lessons over time, with more time for reflection, sharing, and elaborating on first thoughts with more complex ideas and more time for creative incubation as the content demands.Consider how this sequence of critical and creative thinking activities might be applied with math content in a study of percents.Creative thinking requires all of these critical thinking skills and goes beyond, generating something new and useful in a particular context: generating innovative ideas, products, and solutions; expressing ideas in innovative ways; and communicating ideas, solutions, or products to an appropriate audience.These, of course, are the higher order thinking skills of Bloom; these are the thinking skills necessary for meaningful learning in all disciplines.The findings of this study indicate a significant decline of creativity among American students in recent decades, which the authors describe as a “creativity crisis.” They attribute this decline to overemphasis on standardization in curriculum, instruction, and assessment in American schools—with emphasis on acquisition of information, facts and details, and finding “the right answer” rather than critical analysis and evaluation of content or creative exploration of ideas and innovative thinking.The answer to this crisis, they say, is teaching critical and creative thinking skills in context of content instruction.