By: MARICEL Q. RAMOS, Head Teacher III, Putlod-San Jose National High School
Giving answers to questions may probably the major evaluative component of one’s quest for practical and logical understanding. Even a kid who is raised in a critical environment is taught to give the smartest answers when prompted with questions varying from informational to emotional—the latter being swayed towards unquestionable ambiguity as answers to such may simply be imposed on him by his parents or teachers. The point being driven is that almost in all situations, one’s answers create for him a favorable environment where he can rest without being questioned or challenged further.
This is not so, though, for authentic learning. Unlike in the past, today’s educators are not supposed to provide everything for their students. At the very least, they are expected to create a context for intelligent questions. They go beyond an autocratic imposition on giving answers to fulfill the goals of learning or even assessment.
In order to be critical, one has to engage in an analysis-based merits and blunders of a certain work, a situation, or a principle that had enjoyed wide acceptance or even admiration. Through questions, the objective of critical thinking is optimally achieved. For instance, there is no absolute answer to a question that demands the quality of work. As learned standards can be used to identify the qualities of a good piece of literature, literary elements can go as far as their impact on the reader who struggles with his own views and those being shoved down his throat. The learner who values critical thinking then goes through a processing of ideas which can only begin by dealing with important questions—How do you identify with the character in the story? Why is the world tired of vicious heroes that only enthrone themselves? Has heroism changed over the years? Is the hero in the story still the hero you would dream to become today? Note that elements such as characterization, point of view, setting, or plot can only make sense to the learner if questions of this kind are asked. On the part of the teacher, his cue begins with asking beyond information. The sample questions do not only challenge the students to give compelling answers; they are also prompted to process their thoughts and emotions, bring up their background knowledge in relation to what is here and now, and create their own standard of truth or untruth depending on given premises. They are made to question even their own beliefs, so that a piece of literature becomes a tool for the widening of their perspectives. By this the literary piece no longer
serves as a mere source of information; it becomes a tool that helps learners picture the world in its beauty and ugliness, in its realistic tendencies and fantastic ideals.
When a teacher asks a question, the learner is not only expected to give an absolute answer. From his answer more questions may arise—the better ones or the ones that breed a connection of ideas and emotions, so that as a learner, he is given the chance to go deeper than the surface, and to ask more so as to gain more.
Critical thinking in terms of questioning necessitates facilitation that can be achieved through scaffolding. Here are some teachers’ strategic manner of facilitating “What’s there to Ask in the promotion of critical thinking
Activate the schema: An old-stored information can be as meaningful as new when connected with the newly encountered inputs. When learners find connections from the previous learning and connect it to the new data sets of information, the pre-requisites of critical thinking is also activated creating a solid storage and repository for long-term and meaningful learning.
Associate inputs and enact: Another significant strategy in developing critical thinking is training our learners to associate learning experience to various sources to avoid superficial piling of knowledge. An input associated with current events, news events, and personal experience of others are excellent springboards in input and learning association. This way a learner is not just gaining knowledge but developing the significance of the association of new inputs to a real and relevant learning experience which turned him to be highly aware and critical of what’s happening, what’s his role, and how he will react to real-world challenges of sustaining critical thinking.
Ask the ‘H’ not just the ‘W’: Recognizing the highest hierarchy of cognitive learning is not just knowing the literals of “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”. Fostering a higher level of critical thinking also complements a higher level of “How” and “Why” questions. This is not disregarding the literal level of understanding but appreciating the value of reasoning from knowing the basics.
Giving answer is the basic of logical and critical reasoning. As stewards of erudition, teachers must learn to train learners the hierarchy and scaffold of questioning that activates learners’ practical and logical understanding.