Teaching your students with principles and techniques that foster critical thinking will create an atmosphere of excitement about learning in the classroom. With this approach, the emphasis in the classroom becomes one of fostering a deep connection with the course material as well as with the world around us. It is a powerful way to teach because it validates the native intelligence that we all possess.

Many students will enter your classroom with many preconceived negative notions that could interfere with their learning. These myths of learning must be acknowledged and your lesson plans must be crafted with activities that will replace these notions with positive impressions of the learning process that could last a lifetime.


See this page in a PDF PRESENTATION 20th Century woodcut (from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day)



  • learning is boring
  • learning takes place only in a classroom
  • teaching must be systematic, logical and planned in order to be effective
  • to learn you must put yourself under a teacher
  • we must be passive and receptive in order to learn
  • learning must be thorough or it's not worth doing

Let's go through each one of these to discuss why you must overcome these obstacles

Myth #1: learning is boring
Showing students that learning is exciting, fun, and never-ending will establish them as lifelong learners.

Myth #2: learning takes place only in a classroom
This is an important myth to dispell, or else your students will not associate learning with a lifelong process. Field experiences and carefully constructed assignments will contribute to dispelling this myth.

Myth #3: teaching must be systematic, logical and planned in order to be effective
Teaching should work like the human mind and be more dynamic, spontanious, and relevent. Pursuing tangents and taking advantage of unexpected interests in students and exploring unplanned current events are vital. You don't always have to start at the beginning!

Myth #4: to learn you must put yourself under a teacher
The student must be the center of their learning experience. They must be empowered to control their learning experience by being taught to question the world around them, how to research any problem, and how to work towards a solution to any issue.

Myth #5: we must be passive and receptive in order to learn
We actually learn the worst when our bodies are stiff, ridgid, and tired from sitting for hours. Learning is a dynamic process. It begins with questions, continues with observations and data gathering, and then culminates with exploring other points of views and potential answers. The more active we are, the more engaged we are in the process, the more we will learn.

Myth #6: learning must be thorough or it's not worth doing
Often a teacher or student won't begin a topic because "there isn't enough time to cover it." This is actually rarely true. It is always possible to create a series of questions about a subject and craft exercises and activities to explore it. The goal of teaching is not to answer all your students questions. Rather, it is to give students the intellectual and physical tools to answer any question for the rest of their lives.



Some of your students will also have a number of fears associated with learning that must also be acknowledged if your teaching is to be effective.

  • I won't understand what I am learning
  • I am not a (math, science, etc.) kind of person
  • I don't know how to learn this
  • I won't remember what I am learning
  • I feel ashamed when I don't know something


Transforming lessons into ones that have less of a focus on facts and figures and more emphasis on building a conceptual framework for your students' learning is surprisingly straightforward. It starts with a willingness to cast off your own myths and fears of learning and a desire to try something new. Studies clearly show that students prepared in this way perform just as well if not better on standardized tests as well as being much better prepared for future studies.

Most teachers find the process quite familiar once they begin.


Teaching critical thinking means that students must be taught:

  • that there is something to figure out.
  • to notice their world and become skilled observers and listeners.
  • to ask questions and wonder about the world.
  • To challenge assumptions and biases.
  • To consider multiple points of view.
  • To take responsibility for their actions.
  • To think at a deep rather than a superficial level and not oversimplify or generalize.
  • To critically access their own work.
  • To tolerate uncertainty.

To accomplish this, teachers must:

  • cover less so that students learn more.
    Learning cannot be measured by the quantity of information presented. After an exam, students taught in this way will often say "whew, I'm glad I don't have to know that anymore."
  • create an environment for learning where students make discoveries for themselves.
  • become facilitators rather than lecturers, gently leading students towards discovery.
  • remodel their lesson plans, turning their lectures into interactive, creative learning experiences.

The activities in these modules have been constructed to foster critical thinking in you and in your students.

The Process of Remodeling Your Lesson Plans

  1. Start with one of your lesson plans.
  2. Critique this plan for ways critical thinking could be fostered.
  3. Create the two or three fundamental and powerful objectives you would like to see accomplished by this lesson plan.
  4. Select critical thinking strategies derived from critical thinking principles.
  5. Include Socratic questioning and role playing features.
  6. Create meaningful activities and assignments that will encourage the student to discover the answers to the questions.
  7. Develop a meaningful assessment strategy.

ct_strategies.htmlCritical Thinking Strategies

Remodel one of your lesson plans to include principles of critical thinking.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Jackie A. Giuliano Ph.D.