Creating Critical Thinkers Through Creativity
Critical thinking is a characteristic that defines intelligent, independent humans. And while this skill may seem simple in principle, do many of us actually know what it is or how to foster it within ourselves?
Critical thinking is the process of forming logical conclusions, through systematic and open-minded thought, while considering any bias or assumption that may affect the solution’s legitimacy. Essentially, it teaches us to decide for ourselves the most accurate outcomes for the situations we face, and not believe every piece of media, information and commentary we hear. It can be important both generally, and when complicated problems are faced.
One thing parents think critically about is how to give kids the capabilities required to succeed at life. And the ability to think independently, logically and accurately is frequently referred to as one of those. So, how can it be practised and harnessed in a manner conducive to a child’s own development?
Research has shown that when children are taught to be creative, they can learn how to approach problems with an unrestricted perspective, an open mind and a degree of liberty.
Painting or drawing provides children with an aesthetic problem to solve. This may require consideration of colour, shape, tone and texture. It may also include whether to replicate an image or repurpose it in a manner that represents their own perspective. With painting or drawing, kids must decide whether to focus on something known or something invented. They must determine what the image is supposed to mean for them and how it relates to their world. Often, these images won’t represent what adults think, so children must also consider how to justify and explain their art to adults in a manner that they will understand. And, while considering all these elements, children will become completely absorbed in the task, the solutions they are working on and the significance they represent. So, while painting or drawing, children will essentially focus, break down all the elements at their disposal, reform them in a way that makes sense and present their own hypotheses (in the form of an artwork) after careful consideration of the information at hand.
Sculpting or conceptual art presents an opportunity for children to physically create meaning from items that would otherwise be meaningless. For example, with clay children must determine how to shape, mold and structure an object that was nothing more than a blob to begin with. Here they focus considering the forms and features of something unmade and rendering their likeness from nothing. But this likeness is determined by the child’s own interpretation and ability. And, as sculpting ability increases, so does the accuracy of the representation. Conversely, conceptual art calls on children to collect multiple objects that may be unrelated and form one object that has a different meaning or purpose. This outcome is conceived by the child, who has used items that are broken down to reform their meanings with a new purpose.
When playing music, children must construct meaning through sound, rhythm and tempo, so that they can express their personalities, feelings and moods effectively. But to do that, they first need to understand the meaning for themselves and know how it can be used to communicate for them. While they are immersed in learning its elements, children will experiment with different ways to use their hands, fingers, feet or mouths. They may work on their posture and strength and lung capacity. They will explore the results of pitch and tone. Then, without knowing it they begin to understand how to break down the different elements of music, so they can reform them in a unique way and bring new meaning to their worlds.
The process of breaking elements down, learning to understand each one and rebuilding the whole picture is fundamental to critical thinking. Creative programs and activities are often centred around this concept. Through creative activities, children can learn to think about multiple possibilities instead of seeing roadblocks. They may begin to consider opportunity as opposed to restriction. They develop the ability to find solutions for complex issues. And, they become adept at drawing significance from life and its many experiences. So, providing children the opportunity to be involved in creative programs more frequently, can increase their ability to think more critically in general.
- NSW Government, $100 Rebate for Creative Kids, “A new $100 Creative Kids Rebate will allow young people to experience cultural and learning activities outside of school from 2019.“, retrieved, 27/08/18
- Walden University, “Does Art Boost A Student’s Critical Thinking?“, retrieved, 27/08/18
- Edutopia, “Visual Art as Critical Thinking“, retrieved, 27/08/18
- Australian Journal of Teacher Education, “Creative Arts: An Essential Element in the Teacher’s Toolkit When Developing Critical Thinking in Children“, retrieved, 27/08/18
- Kiwi Families, “Benefits of Creative Play“, retrieved, 27/08/18
- Bright Horizons, “Problem Solving Activities: How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills in Kids“, retrieved, 27/08/18
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