Over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to use my review copy of The Basics of Critical Thinking by The Critical Thinking Co. (written by Michael Baker). I wanted to ramp up my kids’ decision-making and critical thinking skills, and this book has been an interesting and practical way to do it. If you’re trying to help teach discernment, this can be a helpful tool as well!
The Basics of Critical Thinking retails for $22.99 and is a 146-page worktext-style paperback book for students in grades 4-9. Younger, gifted students could probably also benefit from it. In fact, I feel that high school students and adults could also use it, because it is a quick way to learn about critical thinking and how to methodically work through problem solving and decision-making. You can click here to see a sample of the book.
Many of the concepts and following exercises actually strongly resembled things I was taught in my college-level philosophy class many years ago. For example, fallacies, facts and probable truths, and analogy arguments. A few of the other topics covered include advertising, finding and evaluating evidence, beliefs and claims, agreements and contracts, and using critical thinking to make better decisions.
In all, there are 20 different topics covered, as well as a pretest and posttest. Answers are also located in the back of the book. What I love about the answers section is that it explains how the answer was found. This makes it a lot easier for me to help my child see where they might have gotten stuck when they got the wrong answer.
I chose to introduce one topic a week to my 5th grade daughter. My 2nd grade son tagged along sometimes, and he did occasionally contribute to the conversation, but most of it was just too far above his comprehension. That’s okay by me! My daughter enjoys having special time with Mom anyway. 🙂
We would read the short lesson page(s) first, which contain great examples to follow along with as well. Each topic presented several practice problems, so we would divide these up into a few different sessions to be completed throughout the week. On some of them, Grace would try to do quite a bit more, but I insisted that it be split up. In my experience, she will breeze through workbooks and retain very little. If I group it into mini lessons, she retains it far better.
I enjoyed working through these with my daughter. Like I said, it reminded me of some college coursework that I completed. I had forgotten a lot of it, so it was pretty fun for me to revisit things I was taught in the past and work through the practice problems in my head while my daughter completed her work in the worktext.
She didn’t always get things right the first time. This is when the explanations in the back of the book answer key became handy. It offered me clear and concise explanations to offer my daughter to help her understand, and we would go and rework the problem together.
I was addicted to logic puzzles as a kid, and this sort of reminded me of doing that. I love logical thinking and looking critically at something to decipher or solve it. I think my daughter is beginning to discover that she enjoys the same kind of challenge.
I highly recommend this book. I love that it is consumable and in paperback form. I love the layout of the lessons and practice problems. The pretest and posttest – well, they’re just the icing on the cake.