The ability to think critically is essential during these challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic can have far-reaching effects on us all—presenting a perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate our critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking requires us to dig deeper and focus on facts and credible sources. In uncertain times, fear emerges. Fear leads us to become impatient, weary, and reactive—making situations go from bad to worse. We must pace ourselves and remember to take time to think critically.
Critical thinkers know how essential it is to check the accuracy of what is read and heard. Misinformation is rampant as are scams that prey on unsuspecting victims, ripping off those who forget to use skillful thinking to evaluate information that appears too good to be true.
Technology provides quick access to an abundance of information—some contradictory and misleading. Sometimes, data changes as quickly as it is reported. Critical thinkers not only know that updates will be coming but also how crucial it is to understand the latest facts. Because there’s so much information available, we must remind ourselves to think critically and to listen to the experts. Regarding the coronavirus, those individuals could be infectious disease experts. Critical thinkers aren’t guided by rumors and misinformation—they make reasoned, informed decisions by using facts, evidence–based data, and credible sources.
Speaking as an educator to those in the trenches, you have an awesome responsibility but not an easy one. The success of every student in your classroom is in your care. With that said, you also have amazing partners to work with—parents. Using skillful thinking, it’s up to you to plan what and how to present lessons in online platforms (some unfamiliar to you) to students and parents. Preparation requires creative and deeper thinking, as learning is presented in different ways. In addition to trying new methods for planning and delivering academic lessons, you’re also addressing the social aspect of learning. Some parents or caregivers might be recently unemployed, others are struggling to hold onto their jobs, and others have children who are having problems adjusting to the new learning methods or don’t have the right equipment. There are even parents (and teachers) who are trying to manage their schedules while supervising non-school age children. These and more issues compound the situation faced by our educators and parents. Once again, critical thinking is what we must rely on to guide us to plan and implement appropriate learning in these unusual times. Critical thinking is all about relationship building. Never has it been more important to connect with parents and students. A crucial component of this newly created form of parent engagement is to remember to encourage and thank them in their new roles. We must embrace this new partnership of virtual communication and recognize that classrooms at home are just as diverse as classrooms in our brick–and–mortar schools.
A final point to share is that a critical thinker displays confidence and recognizes the importance of encouraging and validating the feelings and perspectives of others. This is uncharted territory and we find ourselves asking how might we—as educators, parents, and friends—exhibit critical thinking behaviors? One recommendation is to offer reassurance to each other and to our children, even if their faces and words indicate that all is good. It is vital that we openly communicate and collaborate, examine the pulse of others, and frequently inquire about their thoughts, while leading by example. We should model working with and talking about the new information that is released daily by ensuring that we’ve analyzed and interpreted it correctly. Then, after reflection, we must adapt the way we live our lives accordingly as well as create ways to infuse an element of fun even while practicing social distancing. Remind each other that “We can do this!” That’s the attitude of a critical thinker.
These are just a few examples that showcase our ability to think critically. I’m encouraging us all to work together through this crisis as we continue to educate our children. We can do both! We all have the capacity to think skillfully. There is no one single way to think. But to resort to panic, fear, and reaction without thought does not lead to resolution of the issue at hand. A critical thinker does not give up but continually seeks ways to improve or resolve problems. Now is the time to recognize the relevancy of thinking beyond the surface—critical thinking matters!