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Critical thinking is not an isolated goal unrelated to other important goals in education. Rather, it is a seminal goal which, done well, simultaneously facilitates a rainbow of other ends. It is best conceived, therefore, as the hub around which all other educational ends cluster. For example, as students learn to think more critically, they become more proficient at historical, scientific, and mathematical thinking. But to develop a deep understanding of the foundations of critical thinking involves a long-term approach to learning and applying those foundations.
James Stigler, coauthor of the book, The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World’s Teachers for Improving Education in the Classroom, comments on the importance of long term staff development. It is clear that there is no way to bring critical thinking successfully into instruction across the curriculum with a stand-alone one or two-day workshop. But a long-term approach to critical thinking professional development enables faculty to internalize and apply the fundamentals of critical thinking at a deep level. Through a long-term approach, faculty can restructure their courses so that students develop as inquisitive and disciplined thinkers and questioning minds.
Its success depends on a number of variables. Faculty in a long range professional development program come to recognize explicitly that critical thinking is not just one of many divergent educational aims, but is rather a way of teaching and learning at a high level of effectiveness. They learn to use all other reform trends as a support for a high level of thinking in both the teaching and learning process. A Professional Development Model for Colleges and Universities That Fosters Critical Thinking. They learn how to make every class day question-driven and how to layer a variety of content standards into a unified unit of instruction. A long-range staff development program can be enhanced by the use of our Thinker’s Guide library.
These guides enable faculty to work together or individually to develop over an extended period of time. They help build the faculty knowledge base of critical thinking and instructional strategies. They demonstrate the practicality and comprehensiveness of the approach we recommend. In planning staff development, you should begin with a session that lays the foundation for improvement in class instruction and for follow-up workshops.