Critical Thinking Social Studies Curriculum

Critical Thinking Social Studies Curriculum-2
Wilen and John Arul Phillips A primary goal of social studies is to prepare students to make informed decisions on public and political issues.Making those informed decisions requires critical thinking skills.

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The teacher primarily accomplishes this through modeling the use and application of critical thinking.

In addition, the skills are also modeled by the learners.

Research shows that students learn both skills and subject matter if they are taught concurrently (Beyer 1988).

Influence of Modeling Metacognition refers to the knowledge and control people have over their thinking and learning activities (Flavell 1979); it involves "thinking about thinking." The metacognitive approach we are proposing is an alternative way to teach critical thinking skills and is based on the principles of infusion-the teacher directly teaches students specific critical thinking skills within the context of subject matter.

This approach entails integrating content and skills as equally as possible in order to maintain a balance of the two (Willis 1992).

Thinking skills are reinforced throughout the teaching of the subject and later retained.

Modeling, as is acknowledged by Bandura, a leading theorist in social learning, is ". Good and Brophy, in their recent review of research (1994), have concluded that students learn more effectively by observation through modeling than through deliberate instruction by the teacher or deliberate practice by the learner.

The teacher is the "expert" and models the thought processes involved in executing a particular critical thinking skill, such as establishing whether a statement is fact or opinion.

Therefore, effective participation in public life is contingent on the quality of one's critical thinking skills.

While there is general agreement as to the necessity of developing students' critical thinking skills in preparation for effective citizenship, there is less agreement about how to teach these skills (Wilen in-press).


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