Homeschool children don’t necessarily learn to think critically in public, private, or home schools. The U.S. educational model emphasizes “acquiring unrelated bits of information instead of developing a coherent framework of knowledge. But information is not knowledge. It doesn’t become knowledge until the human mind acts on it and transforms it.” (John Chafee, Ph.D., The Thinker’s Way) According to the Greek playwright, Sophocles, “knowledge must come through action.” In other words, the only way to become a better thinker is to think.
10. Homeschool critical thinkers are open-minded.
They listen carefully to every viewpoint, evaluating each perspective carefully and fairly. They recognize their own bias and are not afraid to hear other people’s positions…in fact, they welcome hearing other viewpoints because then their own knowledge is broadened. They empathize with others.
9. Homeschool critical thinkers are knowledgeable.
They have a broad knowledge base. Remember that knowledge is not the same as information…knowledge comes when you act upon the information by interpreting and applying it to your life. They base their opinions on facts, evidence, or personal experience. If they lack knowledge, they admit it.
8. Homeschool critical thinkers are mentally active.
They love the challenge of learning. They actively seek understanding and confront problems with glee. They do not respond to events or information passively. All of life is learning and acquiring new understanding. They are excellent observers.
7. Homeschool critical thinkers are curious.
They have not lost the curiosity of their youth. One of their favorite questions is “Why?” They explore situations with probing questions that penetrate below the surface instead of being satisfied with easy answers.
6. Homeschool critical thinkers are independent.
They don’t borrow the ideas of others. They are not afraid to disagree with the crowd because they have developed their own opinion through thoughtful analysis and reflection. They can explain why they believe what they believe to be true.
5. Homeschool critical thinkers are conversationalists.
They are skilled at discussing the issues in an organized and intelligent manner. Controversial issues don’t scare them because they are good listeners who consider all the facts before responding.
4. Homeschool critical thinkers are insightful.
They are able to get to the heart of the problem. They are not distracted by superfluous data. They can boil down an issue to the bare bones. They see the forest and the trees. They evaluate the accuracy of alternative positions and the credibility of their sources.
3. Homeschool critical thinkers are self-aware.
They know their own bias and are quick to point them out. They take their own position into consideration when analyzing a problem and look at all the alternatives equally.
2. Homeschool critical thinkers are creative.
They are innovators who break out of established patterns of thinking. They imagine another way of solving the problem. They think outside of the box.
1. Homeschool critical thinkers are passionate.
They have a passion for understanding. They are always striving to see the issues and problems with greater clarity. They engage in debates not for the purpose of proving their position “right” but to increase their own understanding.
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Can you see the beginnings of a critical thinker in your own home school? Do you have a curious child? Does your child show great imagination? Do you have a listener in your family? Everybody thinks. The challenge is not producing thoughts but producing useful thoughts that are capable of changing their world for the better. As you consider teaching your children road two of the classical trivium, thought, remember that classical home schools teach a child “how to think” not “what to think.” Give your homeschool children the tools that they need to achieve their fullest potential and develop the top 10 traits of a critical thinker.