Web Resources

Richard Paul and Linda Elder: Criticalthinking.Org

While essentially a commercial site peddling the professional development services of Paul and Elder and their group, this site also provides a fair amount of useful information if you drill down into various tabs, as for example in this very slick graphic explaining the elements and standards.

Will Richardson's blog

Richardson is arguably the most principled and articulate voice for disruptive innovation in education today. He challenges us all to think well about education in the 21st Century. You also might want to check out his TED talk or this recent Vimeo presentation, where he runs (really fast) through "19 Bold Ideas" (the list presented via Lisa Nielsen’s blog, is included on the Readings and Provocations page.

Dan Meyer

Dan's blog Mr. Meyer is one of the best resources for math teachers looking to frame their lessons as student-centered, inquiry based explorations. See also his TED Talk, Math Class Needs a Makeover

Edutopia has video documentary about a KIPP High School in California that focuses on Critical Thinking Skills. The site also has links to a variety of related resource materials.

Jonathan Martin's blog 21k12


Specifically about CT:

Richard Paul, Critical Thinking, (1995)

The original tome. It's an intimidating-looking volume, 500+ pages of solid text and lots of scary-looking graphs and charts, but it provides a good overall framework for framing an approach to Critical Thinking.

Paul and Elder, Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life (2001)

A more readable, practical, and user-friendly guide for students and teachers: fewer pages, more graphics, more white space. Also consider the "Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking" available on their website, and also an even more miniature guide (a sampler from the other book) available for free here as a .pdf.

Edward de Bono, Practical Thinking (1971)

Edward de Bono, de Bono's Thinking Course (1994)

Edward de Bono is the grandfather of the CT movement, one of the earliest advocates of metacognition and a deliberate approach to lateral thinking (a term he introduced in 1967). His books are not easy to read (he's not a smooth writer) but they are thought-provoking and there are ideas you can borrow to use in class.

Arthur Costa, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind

Costa is another father figure in this field.

Chet Meyers, Teaching Students to Think Critically

Although written about and for college students and teachers, this book is very well written and has a lot of ideas that can be easily adapted to K-12 classrooms. Chapter Two ("Examining the Process of Critical Thought") available here.

Stephen Brookfield, Developing Critical Thinkers (1987)

This is a well-researched and thoughtful book about the place of Critical Thinking in adult society. But it has some useful material that relates to the teaching and learning of critical thinking. I've included a .pdf in the "articles" section below that has three short, useful excerpts.

Ron Ritchhart, Intellectual Character: What is is, Why it Matters, and How to Get It

One of the very best books about what it means to think responsibly, about the habits of mind that support quality thought, and about how teachers can help students develop those habits of mind. Includes a lot of very specific narrative examples of classroom practice.

Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for all Learners. (2011)

Another very practical book from the folks at Project Zero. Includes more than 20 specific "thinking routines" you can use with students. Sample passage: “Making students' thinking visible serves a broader educational goal as well. When we demystify the thinking and learning process, we provide models for students of what it means to engage with ideas, to think, and to learn. In doing so, we dispel the myth that learning is just a matter of committing the information in the textbook to one's memory. School is no longer about the "quick right answer" but about the ongoing mental work of understanding new ideas and information. Vygotsky, writing about the importance of the sociocultural context of learning in providing models, stated, "Children grow into the intellectual life of those around them." As educators, this quote provides a powerful metaphor for what it means to educate another. Taking this quote seriously, we must then ask ourselves, What kind of intellectual life are we presenting to our students in our individual classrooms and in our school as a whole? What are my students learning about learning. What messages am I sending through the opportunities I create for my students about what learning is and how learning happens?” (29)

Tishman, Perkins, and Jay, The Thinking Classroom (1995)

A well-organized and useful early text from the people at Project Zero. It discusses six dimension of good thinking: the language of thinking, thinking dispositions, mental management (metacognition), the strategic spirit, higher order knowledge, and transfer.

Other books which are relevant to some degree and worth reading in any case:

Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational - Ariely is one of the generation of behavioral economists who have blown up the assumption that reasonable people given accurate information will make rational choices. He has done many very elegant and entertaining experiments that demonstrate that that is in fact not how people behave.

Bayles and Orland, Art and Fear - This is a book about artmaking, but it is also an excellent book about teaching, learning, thinking, and developing productive habits of mind. My favorite passage: "What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece. The place to learn about your materials is in the last use of your materials. The place to learn about your execution is in your execution. The best information about what you love is in your last contact with what you love. Put simply, your work is your guide: a complete, comprehensive, limitless reference book on your work. There is no other such book, and it is yours alone. It functions this way for no one else. Your fingerprints are all over your work, and you alone know how they got there. Your work tells you about your working methods, your discipline, your strengths and weaknesses, your habitual gestures, your willingness to embrace."

Ron Berger, An Ethic of Excellence - One of the best books I have read about the incomparable value of having students do real work in the real world, and one of the best books about educational practice period. And these are elementary school kids he's talking about.

Carol Dweck, Mindset - You don't really need to read this book, but you need to know what it says. Fortunately, there are a lot of summary articles about her core thesis (that kids praise for being smart become risk averse, but kids praised for working hard start embracing risk) on her web site.

Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers. Drawing on the work of Carol Dweck and others, Gladwell writes about what accounts for the extraordinary success of those people, like Bill Gates, who our culture tends to lionize as natural geniuses. The short version of his thesis: there's no such thing. You just have to get your 10,000 hours in. You can read a summary of that argument, in "The Talent Myth," an article he published in the New Yorker before publishing his book, here on his web site.

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow.

Jonah Lehrer, How We Decide - Currently in disgrace for having fabricated quotes from Bob Dylan in his most recent book Imagine. But this earlier work is well worth reading.

Michael Lewis, Moneyball - A mentor of mine once described this book as the best book on critical thinking ever written. Hyperbolic, perhaps, but not entirely inaccurate. If you want to come at CT from the point of view of what it looks like in so-called real world as opposed to what it looks like the classroom, this will do it for you.

Neil Postman, The End of Education - "The End" here means "the goal" or "the purpose." Postman argues that for our curriculum to make sense to kids, it should be framed as a story they are inhabiting. In the book he offers several kinds of ur-narratives that might serve this purpose. Read an excerpt from the chapter "The Fallen Angel," based on the notion that the most powerful way to learn is by making mistakes, here.)

Daniel Willingham, Why Students Don't Like School - Willingham is a very opinionated and outspoken cognitive scientist who brings a research background to bear on educational practice. I often find myself disagreeing with him, but I always find him interesting. This is a rich, annoying, thought-provoking book. He's also writes all the time in popular media, so a Google search will bring up other examples. And, inevitably, he has a web site as well, with an archive of articles.

Design Thinking

In the last several years there has been a lot of productive interaction between design firms on the one hand and educational institutions on the other about a series of process moves that has come to be known as "design thinking." The design thinking process comes in various flavors, but they generally a series of steps that including empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, and feedback. It's perhaps more accurately a creative thinking process rather than a critical thinking process, but the basic principles in each process are comparable, and perhaps might be said to inhabit the middle ground between critical thinking and creative thinking.

Design Thinking for Educators

Stanford Design School

George Kembel: On Designing an Incubator for Premature Babies