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About The Author  
Carol Fertig

Carol Fertig

I have been active in the education community for more than 40 years and involved in gifted education for more than 20 years. At various times, I have been a classroom teacher, gifted education teacher, consultant, writer, editor—you name it. I live in Colorado, but also spend a fair amount of time in Chicago. I have two grown boys: one in Colorado and one in California. In my spare time, I enjoy skiing, mountain biking, and golfing. I also like to read, go to plays, and watch foreign movies. Feel free to send me an e-mail.

I am also the author of Raising a Gifted Child: A Parenting Success Handbook. This book offers a large menu of strategies, resources, organizations, tips, and suggestions for parents to find optimal learning opportunities for their gifted kids, covering the gamut of talent areas, including academics, the arts, technology, creativity, music, and thinking skills.

Raising a Gifted Child

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Critical Thinking for Gifted Students

Friday, August 26, 2005 - by CFertig - Category: Parents and Educators
We want to teach students to think logically and critically and not accept information as fact just because someone tells them it is so. We also want them to go beyond the memorization of facts and be able to analyze, evaluate, and apply what they learn to their own lives. The ability to think critically helps one to make thoughtful decisions about school work, directions in life, friends, politics, etc.
While the development of critical thinking skills is vital for all young people, it is especially important for gifted students. There are many definitions of critical thinking. These include the ability to
  1. evaluate information and opinions in a systematic, purposeful, efficient manner
  2. solve complex real world problems
  3. generate multiple (or creative) solutions to a problem
  4. draw inferences
  5. synthesize and integrate information
  6. distinguish between fact and opinion
  7. predict potential outcomes
  8. evaluate the quality of one's own thinking
The incorporation of critical thinking skills is often what determines the more complex process when teachers differentiate curriculum for gifted students.
While it is important that critical thinking be taught in the schools, it is also very important that it be developed at home.
There are two well-recognized systems of questioning that have been developed to teach critical thinking: Bloom’s Taxonomy and Richard Paul’s Socratic Questions. These types of questioning can be incorporated into both school work and into discussions at home.
Benjamin Bloom created a hierarchical taxonomy of questioning techniques from the very basic levels of knowledge through analysis, synthesis, and evaluation questions. In the 1970s and 1980s, his taxonomy was often misused in classrooms in a variety of ways. Often gifted students were expected to jump right to the higher-level questions without the basic knowledge. Here is a list of well-constructed question-starters using Bloom’s Taxonomy that I would highly recommend. Remember to ask students questions from all levels—not just the complex questions.
Richard Paul’s Six Types of Socratic Questions offers another format of thought-provoking questions that are divided into categories. This is an approach that is different from Bloom’s. These questions are used to
  1. clarify
  2. probe assumptions
  3. probe reasons and evidence
  4. explore viewpoints and perspectives
  5. probe implications and consequences
  6. ask questions about the question
While the questioning techniques of Bloom’s Taxonomy and Richard Paul’s Six Types of Socratic Questions can be applied to any subject that is discussed in school, teachers also need to know that there is excellent, already-developed curricula incorporating these critical thinking approaches. The curricula include
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