Critical Thinkers and Creative Problem Solvers

Students demonstrate progressively complex intellectual abilities to acquire, remember, understand and apply knowledge as well as higher-order thinking skills (e.g., the ability to analyze, evaluate, and create), especially in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Students understand that their competence and character will be judged in terms of the choices they make, and they demonstrate the ability to employ critical and creative thinking skills to solve problems.

Key Beliefs:
  • It is important to understand and evaluate the information I am given.
  • I can use what I know to figure out problems and explain situations.
  • Read articles on a selected topic from different points of view.
  • Prepare and deliver explanatory and persuasive arguments and presentations.
  • Explain and illustrate how our beliefs and ideas about things can change as we are exposed to new ideas and experiences, starting with minor things (favorite foods or music) to major things (political values).
  • Read and discuss biographies of accomplished individuals. Be discerning, seeing that an individual may have flaws but still be capable of much admirable action.

Quotations are great for writing and discussion prompts.

  • “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
  • “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
  • “An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.” – Anatole France
  • “Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.” – Roger Lewin
  • “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” – Henri Bergson
  • “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.” – Plato
  • “Out of the questions of students come most of the creative ideas and discoveries.” – Ellen Langer
  • “Invest a few moments in thinking. It will pay good interest.” – Unknown=
Helpful Articles:

The Woodcutter’s Story
Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job as a timber merchant, and he got it. The pay was really good, and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best. His boss gave him an ax and showed him the area where he was supposed to work.

On the first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees. “Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on your way!”

Very motivated by the words of his boss, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. On the third day, he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day, he was bringing fewer and fewer trees.

“I must be losing my strength.” the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.

“When was the last time you sharpened your ax?” the boss asked. “Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my ax. I have been very busy trying to cut trees.”

The Boulder That Couldn’t Be Moved
When St. Petersburg, one of the most splendid and harmonious cities in Europe, was being laid out early in the eighteenth century, many large boulders brought by a glacier from Finland had to be removed. One particularly large rock was in the path of one of the principal avenues that had been planned, and bids were solicited for its removal. The bids submitted were very high.

This was understandable because at that time, modern equipment did not exist, and there were no high–powered explosives. As officials pondered what to do, a peasant presented himself and offered to get rid of the boulder for a much lower price than those submitted by other bidders. Since they had nothing to lose, officials gave the job to the peasant.

The next morning he showed up with a crowd of other peasants carrying shovels. They began digging a huge hole next to the rock. The rock was propped up with timbers to prevent it from rolling into the hole. When the hole was deep enough, the timber props were removed, and the rock dropped into the hole below the street level. It was then covered with dirt, and the excess dirt was carted away.

It’s an early example of what creative thinking can do to solve a problem. The unsuccessful bidders only thought about moving the rock from one place to another on the city’s surface. The peasant looked at the problem from another angle. He considered another dimension – up and down. He couldn’t lift it up, so he put it underground.

Critical Thinkers and Creative Problem Solvers – Educational Outcomes:
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creating Problem Solver
  • Intellectual Integrity, Independence, and Openness
  • Understand and Apply Knowledge
  • Resourceful, Discerning Researchers