R4 Ideas



What is #EcoSYS?

An ongoing conversation on the dynamics of social ecosystems, focused on K12 Education.more return to front page


Resource Framing

On these pages, we will outline resources that are foundational concepts for innovation in education, to provide a basis for new thinking.   These will be captured and reapplied to insights generated in our weekly chats or async conversations, in hopes that we might develop more fully viable innovations for others to draw from.



R4.1 Critical Thinking.

Foundational skills for discerning members of a global 21st Century society.  Additional framing in a broad context here with more specific K12 resource links here.


Q0 How should we define Critical Thinking in broader social context (target OUTCOMES)?

A0a. Rigor(ous thinking): fact based, rational & logical, supporting our conclusions with data or insights

A0b. GOOGLE definitions (aggregated)

A0c. Stepping outside of what is easy, coming up with new ideas and having courage to share them.


Q1 What are the characteristics of Critical Thinking as viewed in Education context?

A1a. Aim of education: how to think, not what to think

A1b. Skills we use to challenge surface observations of a topic, enabling more rigorous understanding & application

A1c. Critical thinkers grapple with content and consider problems and solutions, looking at content through different lenses


Q2 What are traditional subjects where Critical Thinking is taught? What professional disciplines most depend on Critical Thinking to produce results.

A2a.Science (all disciplines)

A2b. Writers, Literature

A2c. Journalism

A2d. Philosophy

A2e. AP

A2f. Any subject, when Problem Based Learning (PbL) is used

A2g. (not curriculum specific) Belongs in all aspects of school and life


Q3 What is working in today's classroom relative to Critical Thinking?

A3a. Problem based learning.

A3b. Creativity

A3c. Authentic Learning - real life - seeing, doing, touching, not learning via abstractions

A3d. PYP http://ilnk.me/6e84 

A3e. International Baccalaureate

A3f. Current events focus.


Q4 What isn't working?

A4a. Standardized tests can kill independent thinking, as they focus on facts & recall, not comprehension

A4b Teachers can be forced to "teach to tests"

A4c Risk that CT can block more creative learning processes? (not confirmed)


Q5 What 'next steps' might we need to pursue to drive a refocus on Critical Thinking in #K12? 

A5a To counter pop culture, foster new "culture of learning" that values intellect and critical thinking http://bit.ly/povCTk 

A5b. Get kids to think, explore, create, learn - every single day

A5c. Possible return to CT "roots" of Socrates, Aristotle.


Q6 Most professions listed as Critical Thinking require a college degree. Does CT require Higher Ed?

A6a. Not if science and lit are taught using methods, not facts.  Can happen in K12 (likely h.s.)

A6b Certainly some professions require degree (if not graduate level) to achieve needed expertise/rigor, eg., practicing scientist.


Q7 What kinds of Data are most valuable for guiding instructional decisions?

A1a. Longitudinal data - tracks student improvement year over year, vs. arbitrary norm.




What's a Social Ecosystem?

K12 Education today functions like an ‘ecosystem’. Most of the many interdependent stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, administrators, legislators, policy makers, text book companies) work diligently, but not always in tandem. No one entity has full control of the process. Across the diverse stakeholder groups are multiple, often conflicting objectives. Each depends on the others in the food chain for the system to function, but there is little optimization taking place.  Across the education ecosystem, too often it’s become a challenge of survival.


Open for further Discussion & Input.

Parking Lot for future topics (possibly in other threads, "Bright Spots", "Thought Leaders", "R"s or "T"s, "Innovations"