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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Critical Thinking Company - Review

We got another fun little book to review from The Critical Thinking Company.

We got to try The Basics of Critical Thinking, recommended for grades 4 through 9.

I asked for this book with A-man in mind.  I think he is super smart, super creative and a super hard worker.  However, sometimes he is not the most logical person on the earth.  He doesn't always look at a situation or a problem and use common sense.  But, how do you teach that to somebody?

Well, you can start with The Basics of Critical Thinking.

Off the top of your head, can you describe what critical thinking even is?  Honestly, it was one of those things that I understood inside my head, but explaining to anyone who doesn't actually reside in my head was the difficult part.

Critical thinking is a way to use what you know and what you can learn to help you decide what to believe and what to do.

There first example, in the book, of why being a critical thinker...and of having a lot of knowledge at your fingertips..... is important, was the statement:  The best critical thinker in the world would be a terrible medical doctor if they didn't know a lot about the human body.

Ohhhhh.....I get it, now.

The book uses a series of pictures, stories and life scenarios and asks you to work your way through the critical thinking to make your best informed decision about what is going on, who the bad guy is, etc.

Honesty time, when I originally told A-man that I had asked for this book for him, it was a total eye roll fest.  The whole throwing his head back and moaning...."Why?  Why me?"  Hahahahahaha!  But, I actually got him hooked with the Critical Thinking Pretest that has you try to determine which one of these guys stole a woman's dog.  (A-man really liked the ones where he had to figure out who the bad guy was!)

The book walked him through the process of decisions and conclusions.

Then, it walked him through beliefs (things you think are true) and claims (things you say are true).

As a parent, I really, really liked the page towards the beginning of the book where they talked about the importance of understanding claims.  It talked about the fact that people will try to convince you that their claim is true.  That if you don't understand their claim, you can look for evidence to decide if it is true or not.  So, don't accept it as true until you really understand it.  We used real life examples of things his buddies had told him to discuss this one.

Then, the book moves you through finding evidence....and used a fun story about which kid ate the jam and peanut butter.....Eddie or  Sarah.  You have to use the evidence to determine who you think did it.

After the finding evidence section, it moves onto evaluating evidence.  I had to laugh at the book's example in this one.  Based on evidence, you are asked to decide which person is Bob Baker.

Not sure if you can read the evidence from the acquaintances underneath the pictures, but the last sentence talks about the fact that he got a crazy tattoo in the middle of his forehead.  The activity walks you through statements on each of the 4 guys possibly being Bob.  The person that has the most evidence to be Bob is Mr. B, however....based on the best evidence....Mr. A, is actually Bob because there is only one person who has a tattoo in the middle of their forehead.

The book then moves through inferring and inference ("After answering the first six questions correctly, S-girl inferred she would do well on the test."  The evidence was that she answered the first six the inference is that she will do well on the test.)  I appreciated that this section had a little vocabulary work so he would learn to use the words, infer, inferred, and inference correctly.

From there the book moved on to facts and opinions.  A-man and I had some good discussions on this subject.  Because so many times, children take opinions as truth.  You know, the said it, so it must be true...mentality.  (Honestly, I still have that mentality a bit, when it comes to my parents.)

They started this section out with this picture of dogs.  Then listed a few facts:  There are two dogs.  The gray and white dog is bigger than the other dog.  Then it moved onto opinions:  The small dog is the best dog in the world.  Someday these dogs will be friends.

See?  Just a subtle way of looking and evaluating a situation makes a difference.

I am just really loving the way this book walks A-man through some of these scenarios in an effort to get him to be a critical thinker.  The last half of the book talks about things like advertising, errors in reasons, arguments, and fallacies. (And, honestly, the few that I worked through with him, were fun for me too!)

This is just giving A-man a good place to start in becoming a critical thinker as he heads into middle school.   I like to see him thinking and figuring out these things out for himself.

Have I seen a night and day difference in A-man and his use of logical common sense to solve life situations?  Well, no.  But, I have seen him getting faster and faster at figuring out how to solve the problems in the, his head is definitely moving into the right place.  Don't you think?

You can get a copy of The Basics of Critical Thinking for $22.99.

Go take a look and see what the TOS Reviewers thought of the books they tried from The Critical Thinking Company.