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Critical thinkers in the 21st century …

May 18th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

The last few weeks have been extremely hectic but also rather exciting with participation in some EC projects, the writing of a new module for our Masters in Education and participation in events both in and outside my institution. I promise to translate those experiences in blogpost during the weekend [There you go. I’ve declared my intentions in writing, now I have to do it!]

Meanwhile I want to share the diagram below from mentoringminds.com  because I think it’s a very useful one to have in mind for my future courses.

Courtesy of: Mentoring Minds
This week someone told me you cannot teach young children Critical Thinking. I disagree. I think everyone is capable of it … even if the degree of depth might vary according to the knowledge and  experiences we manage to accumulate. All it takes is to create the appropriate learning context for it to happen and allow learners to engage with it.  Having said that, sometimes that accumulated experience can also get into the way we think… critically! I think the use of digital technologies in education is a good example of that.
I am yet to develop a convincing message for those who see technology as a threat [and me as a lunatic]. Technology, or the Web for that matter, as a form of accessing information or allowing teachers to create sleek content seems to be popular amongst teachers. Everyone likes that feature. But when it comes to use the web as a form of participation, networking and co-creation of knowledge people’s opinions seems to change… almost radically, because apparently children and teenagers might not be ready for it!! …that is for me when that critical thinking vanishes, minds are no longer open to new ideas and new experiences do not materialise because people refuse to accept that using the features of the current web implies to re-think their approaches to practice.
I participated in several events in the past weeks where technology in education was discussed. For me all of those events were marked by one single sentence: “I’m useless with technology”. I have heard variants of this sentence time and time again in the last few weeks. It’s a popular statement. One that is culturally accepted between many educators too. I was puzzled that it  seems to work as a perfect excuse not to look further into how technology can add something to the teaching and learning experience.  Would we allow our pupils and students to say they were rubbish at maths or spelling and let them get away with it? … the answer is “certainly not”.  So why can we?
As you can note from this post, I’m frustrated with such attitude, but I am even more frustrated with myself for not being able to convey the message in an effective way. But I will not give up. I’ll keep working and refining my message…

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