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Tips & Tricks

I have found through teaching Kids Thinking Critically that there are many small things that are invaluable to an effective and enjoyable lesson. Here I offer my humble advice as pointers for anyone teaching the program.

  • Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce! I use Jolly Ranchers candy as a reward whenever a child participates, and especially praise them when they get something right or make an interesting insight.
  • Don’t lecture; instead ask open or leading questions as often as possible. They’ll often be able to come to the conclusions you want to teach them all on their own, and they’ll feel better about themselves and retain more that way.
  • Stay positive. You don’t want to bring them down.
  • When giving specific examples, make them as ideologically neutral as possible. The point is to give a brief primer on evaluating evidence, not to teach them what to think.
  • It helps if you know and have a rapport established with the kids before going in. It’s possible to teach otherwise, but the kids will enjoy if more if they know and like (or at least respect) you prior to the lesson.
  • It also helps if the kids have a working knowledge and understanding of the Thinking Errors prior to the lesson. Otherwise it loses its context and with it its primary utility (I’m working on recontextualizing it to fix this problem, but I’m not quite there yet).
  • Stay away from technical terms or Latin. Nothing will put the kids to sleep faster. Explain everything in ways they can understand; you want to give them a lesson in basic logic and evidence-based thinking without them necessarily realizing that that’s what you’re doing.

I don’t present any of these as gospel, but I think they’re all pretty good ideas. When you adapt the program for your needs, you can and should feel free to make it your own.

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