Essential Ingredients to Critical Thinking

Two recent pieces suggest essential elements for critical and innovative thinking. We could debate priorities, or we could simply agree that we want to offer students a content-rich milieu in which to scaffold their growth from novice to expert learners. I vote for the latter!

In order to compare and contrast, the brain has to hold ideas in working memory, which can easily be overloaded. The more familiar a student is with a particular topic, the easier it is for the student to hold those ideas in his working memory and really think.

We know that experts pay attention to a very different set of patterns than novices often do. Novices get caught up in the surface features and can’t necessarily see the deep principles,” Grotzer says. “It’s really important to think what kind of scaffolding helps people take steps towards greater expertise in their thinking and reasoning.”


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