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Critical Thinking Training Curriculum

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Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) defines critical thinking as "examining, questioning, evaluating, and challenging taken-for-granted assumptions about issues and practices" and critical action as "action based on critical thinking" (page 56).

By adopting this definition of critical thinking and applying their learning in education contexts, students can:

  • become broad and adventurous thinkers
  • generate innovative solutions
  • use their reasoning skills to analyse and evaluate
  • plan and think strategically

Critical thinking enables students to:

  • think about and evaluate their own thinking and behaviour on issues related to health education, physical education, and home economics
  • make reasonable and defensible decisions about issues related to individual and community well-being
  • challenge and take action (individually and collectively) to address social, cultural, economic, and political inequalities
  • understand the role and significance of the movement culture and its influence on our daily lives and the lives of people in our community

In order to help their students to develop critical-thinking skills and to take critical action, teachers need to:

  • have a sound knowledge base from which to support students as they delve more deeply into content
  • remain open to challenge by students, not representing themselves as the sole source of knowledge
  • encourage students to look at the big picture by engaging them in critical-thinking processes that have relevance beyond the classroom
  • be prepared to listen to voices that originate in the classroom and to use students' personal experiences as starting points for gathering information
  • encourage students to question and challenge existing beliefs, structures, and practices
  • avoid offering 'how to do it' approaches
  • encourage students to be sensitive to the feelings of others
  • provide opportunities for inquiry by giving students time for planning, processing, and debriefing
  • structure lessons so that students can work safely and co-operatively and develop creative forms of shared responsibility
  • encourage students to take critical action. When students learn to use democratic processes inside the classroom, they can transfer these to situations outside the classroom

(The list above is based on Smyth (2000), page 507.)

For students, learning to think critically and to take critical action will include:

  • learning to take responsibility for analysing and evaluating information
  • giving each other feedback about their analyses, evaluations, and actions
  • questioning and challenging each other's assumptions in a non-threatening manner
  • learning to identify any inequalities and power relationships within contexts in health education, physical education, and home economics, focusing on how these positions are sometimes reinforced through organisational structures and through certain forms of language
  • reflecting on people's assumptions, beliefs, and behaviours, taking into account a range of factors
  • generating alternative solutions and accepting them or critiquing them in a sensitive manner
  • developing the confidence to work with others in taking critical action

(The list above is based on Smyth (2000), page 507.)

A description of models for teaching and learning in physical education that illustrates a continuum of approaches, from a 'teaching by telling' approach to an approach that requires teachers and students to engage in critical thinking, can be found in Appendix 3. A more complex model for critical thinking that is relevant for physical education and involves using the socio-ecological perspective can be found in Gillespie and Culpan (2000), pages 84–96.

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We design critical thinking into ALL of our full curriculum products. This not only helps students transfer critical thinking skills to other areas of their lives, it improves the effectiveness of the lessons. Critical thinking requires deeper analysis of the lesson. Deeper analysis produces deeper understanding, resulting in greater engagement and retention of the lesson.

Each product listed below provides a complete curriculum within grade range and subject, and meets state and national standards set by the Department of Education.

"If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless." - Michael Baker, President

Complete Grade Level Solutions in Math, Language Arts, Science and Reasoning for less than $43 each. Prices vary from $19.99 to $42.99 per title.

Customer Testimonials:

"I have literally looked all over the world for a good Critical Thinking program and the best one I found was The Critical Thinking Co. I'm using it in all the grades, kindergarten to 12th grade."
- Dr. Daithi O Murchu, New Castle West, Ireland

"The most positive characteristic of the Mathematical Reasoning books are the higher order thinking skills that the content encourages. As an educator, I can appreciate that the skills involve multi-steps and hands-on manipulation." - iParenting Media reviewer

"I just wanted to share that I love your products! My kids just love doing Language Smarts; I love how it's colorful, fun, and effective! It makes Language Arts much more fun for them, and I know they're getting a thorough curriculum."
- Marianne Fick, FL 
"A thorough look at the world of science. [It meets every National Standard for Physical Science, Life Science and Earth Science.] I think it's terrific!"-
Byron, Setauket, NY
"I have been teaching for 38 years. I started using your materials in the 1970's while working with gifted students. The Critical Thinking Co. materials have provided a constant challenge for my students. The Mind Benders were one of their favorite activities. I have continued to use your curriculum materials for more than 30 years. I have made it a point of sharing your critical thinking books with other teachers. Thank you for enhancing the minds of youngsters!"
- Dennis Schuman

In addition to providing your students with the best education materials, we also strive to support you with our team of Education and Assessment specialists. Please do not hesitate to give us a call.


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Common Core and The Critical Thinking Co.

The skills and concepts taught in our products are the result of our surveys of state and national educational standards. We will continue to avoid any topic in any set of standards that is overtly political. We firmly believe it is not our place to attempt to influence the politics or values of any student. Most Common Core Standards are already found in various state standards, but the list of Common Core Standards is not complete. Since a large number of states (45) have signed on to Common Core Standards, The Critical Thinking Co. will now include Common Core Standards in its broad survey of state and national standards to determine the skills and concepts taught in each grade level subject, but we will not base our products solely on any one set of standards. Our products are written with longevity in mind, considering the tried and true practices of teaching children to read and think for themselves. Those of you who have trusted us in the past can rely on us to continue to teach beyond the standards in the future. Please help us spread the word.

Michael O. Baker
The Critical Thinking Co.

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