Critical thinking

This blog is about my journey through the PIDP. Creating the blog was somewhat frustrating, to say the least, but coming through the other side I see the benefit of the struggle. Doing this was a part of an assignment and I really learned allot. Not just setting up the blog but the aspect of critical thinking and problem solving my way through to get this up and running. I have a tendency to overthink and make things harder than what they really are, then I need to take a step back and analyze from a different perspective. How did I know to do that? Experience, I know I get to be too stubborn to ask for help then when I hit enough walls and say enough is enough, I have to start from the beginning. But how do we teach that?? We start by showing our students A Way, and let them find THEIR WAY. Sit back and let them make mistakes, let them use their own tools to discover solutions and develop their decision making process.
Making this blog forced me ask for help, I was given guidance but I figured it out on my own. It was so rewarding in the end and I want to help my students have that experience.
I did allot of research, reading and note taking about critical thinking. There are many different facets to consider while trying injecting this into your lessons. These are the main points that I felt were the most insightful to me:
• Creating an atmosphere for the students to learn in their own respect
• Letting them experience the learning by making them apart of the learning process
• Let them make mistakes and experience consequences
• Let them conduct their own research to generate their own ideas
• Allowing them to develop their own solutions which promotes creativity
• Check to see if the solutions are appropriate
• Careful design of questions and leave enough time for response
• Encourage comparing and contrast
• What are the complexities of the teaching environment?
• What are the work situations? Integrating the work environment with the teaching process and the obstacles that go with it.

The trend in my field to critical thinking is being more of a collaborative process. I can only reflect back when I was in the assisting program and it was all about learning the information and regurgitating it back, then learning the skill with that theory. Now I see the students more involved with their learning process, the structure in the classroom is much more conducive to learning. There is more group work, discussion, feedback and flexibility from what I’m used to. Instructors in my department are working to change the classroom to a more learner centered environment which includes critical thinking, reflection and collaboration. I see them with journaling assignments which are done as an extra activity but would like to see it integrated as a part of the curriculum, like we have with this course. I would like to influence the importance of journaling and work with my peers to encourage and enhance this type of teaching/learning environment.
I was fortunate enough to be paired with a lovely lady who has been a nurse her whole career, experienced in two different provinces and trained in a variety of nursing specialties. Deborah and I talked about the differences and similarities of our careers but having the common ground of being in the health care industry and sharing our knowledge and experience with those who we are teaching.
She really brought to light how in her work situation, challenges present with trying to teach critical thinking. In her 12 hour shifts sometimes there is minimal opportunity to integrate the teaching process with what has to be accomplished in her work environment. She faces students from different cultures who may have never experienced the opportunity to be asked to take the responsibility for this type of thinking, and with English as the second language its difficulty to explain the process. There is no cut and dried formula for fostering critical thinking amongst out students, but many guidelines that can be followed and ideas presented which can be attempted, but consideration has to be made with the individuality our students present to us as instructors. We have to respect what they bring to the table and be fluid enough to adapt to what and how they need to learn.
I appreciated and resonated with her passion for being in this nurturing profession and respected her for always wanting to continue to learn and always moving forward in her life. We chatted about how as individuals we need to keep reinventing ourselves and what motivates us to do so. We both have a desire for higher knowledge and education, something that keeps us fed.
This all relates to our topic of critical thinking which follows us in every aspect of our life. If something isn’t working for us in our life we ask WHY? We try to analyze, synthesize, and come up with alternatives to creating solutions. Then we try them out, see how appropriate they are. Deborah and I seem to do this in our personal life and are trying to reflect that in our teaching.