Critical Thinking

Old Ideas Made New Again

"I started teaching long ago. The air was full of new ideas about curriculum and teaching methods. In the United States and the United Kingdom we had the “New Social Studies,” “New Math,” exciting hands-on science projects, and the like. It was all about engaging learners in the “methods of the discipline,” in doing inquiry not just memorizing facts. This was a long time ago. Today we are hearing these old “new” ideas again."

Leading Classroom Discussions About Population Policy in Singapore

"In January 2013 the Singapore government released a Population White Paper titled A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore, which proposed a plan to steadily increase the population from roughly 5.3 million in 2012 to 6.9 million by 2030. The primary rationale for the plan was to deal with the declining birth rate and rapidly aging population in Singapore. The white paper generated significant response from Singapore citizens, including protests, such as the event organized on Saturday, 16 February 2013, at Hong Lim Park, where an estimated 5,000 people gathered to express disapproval of the plan. "

How to Help All Students with Evidence-based Reading and Writing During an Inquiry Activity

"In this article, I describe an instructional process to help students be successful when they read online sources in order to investigate and answer inquiry questions. The focus question used here, How can social harmony be best achieved in online spaces in Singapore?, frames a learning activity designed for the Singapore Upper Secondary Social Studies curriculum. There are four online sources for this activity. The sources represent different perspectives and solutions to achieve social harmony in online spaces in Singapore. The instructional process for this activity has six key components: 1. Establish a clear inquiry purpose; 2. Introduce learning activity; 3. Activate prior knowledge; 4. Select engaging sources; 5. Design learning scaffolds; 6. Guide synthesis and writing. "

What about Geography? The Geography Curriculum, Young People, Critical Thinking and Active Learning

"This paper is based on a workshop I ran at the Humanities Educators Conference (Singapore, 2012) with the same title. In the workshop, my intention was for the participants to consider ideas of critical thinking and active learning and how this might apply to their own practice. I used examples from geography lessons I had observed in England to illustrate the discussion. Converting a workshop into a paper is not an easy task. One of the benefits of a workshop is the interaction between the participants and the participant led discussion, which is necessarily absent from a paper which reflects a lone voice. Therefore, I have chosen to present some of the content of the session in this paper, and to encourage the reader to consider this content in the light of their own experience. As a geography educator from England, I do not pretend that I have the answers: critical thinking and active learning are challenging for all geography educators, and can differ depending on context. My intention is for individual geography teachers to come to their own understanding of what these terms mean and how they may develop them in their own classrooms."

Exploring the Pedagogical Nature of Historical Texts: Implications for Classroom Teaching

"History, we all know, is the study of the past. As students pursue their history education, they encounter a multitude of textbooks depicting different eras and, in the case of better history classrooms, also a variety of primary and secondary sources from which to gain a more robust understanding of the complexity of the past and the various interpretations given to it. The latter is an important process that moves beyond simply memorizing facts to an endeavor involving, among other things, discerning fact from opinion, corroborating information, contextualizing that information in the period in which it was written, comparing interpretation across multiple sources, and ascertaining the credibility of sources and its utility in exploring a particular topic. Comparing and corroborating sources and ascertaining their credibility not only helps gain a fuller understanding of the past; it also introduces the very idea that history is contested, that it is constructed (made), and that it carries with it particular assumptions and perspectives about the world it attempts to depict."

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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