An Argument in Favor of Teaching Students Critical Thinking and Problem Solving in Mathematics in Everyday Life

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Promoting critical thinking and problem-solving in math education is vital in the development of successful students. Critical thinking and problem-solving go hand in hand. To learn math through problem-solving, students also need to learn how to think critically.

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Unfortunately, critical thinking has not been at the forefront of teaching methods in schools. Teachers need to understand its significance and need to start promoting these key strategies.

Critical thinking is such an essential skill for children to develop in school. Many adults today lack the ability to think critically. This is unfortunate because critical thinking can expand one’s mind, lending a sense of intelligence and confidence. In the past, teachers usually taught material and provided the answers without any explanation of how they arrived at the solution. They often failed to provide explanations because they themselves were not taught to think critically or found teaching critical thinking more challenging than merely providing students with the answer. As future educators, we need to take our roles seriously and not always seek the easy way out when teaching. We must recognize the importance of critical thinking and not relegate it to the back burner.

Another reason many adults today do not think critically is that several teachers have assumed that only certain students are capable of critical thinking. Critical thinking strategies are often exclusively taught to “advanced” students or those in college preparatory courses. Students with lower grades and those in vocational programs are not expected to utilize these strategies and thus do not get exposure to them. This is regrettable because everyone can benefit from developing these skills. Critical thinking strategies are not solely for academic high achievers. These strategies find application in everyday life, whether it’s finances, relationships, or decision-making. People lacking in these critical thinking skills can be impulsive and make decisions that end up harming them in numerous ways.

I once read an article by Thomas Sowell titled “Justice and Injustice.” I particularly enjoyed this article because he highlighted how children on welfare receive about half as many words directed at them as children from working-class families and less than one-third as many words as children whose parents are professionals. He also noted how this is detrimental since researchers found that the physical growth of the brain is affected by the amount of interaction young kids receive. This indicates a correlation between critical thinking and socio-economic status. If teachers continue to hold higher expectations for wealthier students and lower expectations for others, we will never be able to help a child off welfare or give every kid the chance and capability to succeed.

Another article I read was called “Intolerance is a Beautiful Thing.” I am unsure of the author, but it’s a fascinating piece that promotes critical thinking on tolerance. The author asserts that the original meaning of the word “tolerance” has changed. The previous definition was “the acknowledgment of views, beliefs, and others that differ from one’s own.” The contemporary definition is “regarding all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims as equal.”

The writer goes on to explain how the current understanding overlooks Christianity, considering the religion as unique because it believes that Jesus Christ is the only path to Heaven. According to the new definition of the word “tolerance”, Christians are seen as intolerant, even though they acknowledge and respect others regardless of race, gender, and faith. To the author, “intolerance is a beautiful thing”. This article really made me think critically about how society perceives tolerance. I was forced to consider the points made in the article and reassess my understanding and past experiences with the concept of tolerance.

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An Argument in Favor of Teaching Students Critical Thinking and Problem Solving in Mathematics in Everyday Life. (2022, Dec 17). Retrieved from