Critical Thinking For Kids in ActionPear Tree Education
Pear Tree Education
12th Dec, 2014

Part 2: Critical Thinking For Kids in Action

Following on from our previous blog post, let’s see critical thinking skills in action

Here are two examples of how to analyse different materials stage-by-stage and then amalgamate that into a coherent argument.

If you haven’t read our previous blog post, I strongly recommend that you do that first.

As we looked at in that article, critical thinking happens in two stages:

  1. Studying details / determining facts
  2. Thinking more deeply about abstract ideas

We use pictures (shown below) as a constant reminder for us to do all of these things. The questions you see below are related to these pictures and were outlined in the blog post.

 

Example: Two Photos

For this example, I’m going to use two photos to compare/contrast. You don’t need to use two because, since as you will see, you could write for about 45 minutes just about this first photo!

We’ll need to apply the same strategies to each picture, but then also have to compare and contrast.

Please note that the way I’ve presented this information is very lengthy and detailed. In reality, we would/could label the photo with notes (shown below) to cut down on the amount of initial writing required. Also, a good critical thinker would learn to differentiate what is worth noting and what isn’t all that important. Here, I haven’t made that distinction, because I wanted to illustrate the numerous ideas that can be generated by asking questions.

Additionally, you will notice after that I return to the initial questions again, because answering these questions makes me realise something I’ve forgotten to talk about – something very important!

Picture 1

SOURCE: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/Childlabourcoal.jpg

PEOPLE & CHARACTERS: Who / What?

Critical Thinking - Who / WhatCritical Thinking - Why
NAME / ROLE: Who are they? What do they do?
They are boys.
AGE: How old are they?
They are quite young, probably about 10-13 years old.
APPEARANCE: What do they look like? What are they wearing?
They are dirty. Their faces are covered with mud or dust. They are all wearing hats/caps, but are all wearing different types of clothes. One of the boys has a shirt and waistcoat (AKA vest) with a chain, but isn’t wearing a coat. The boy to his left appears to be wearing overalls. The boy to his right has a suit jacket, though it seems very big on him. The next boy has a turtle neck sweater – again it’s a little big for him. He is also wearing a coat, and is probably the warmest dressed of all of them.
SOCIAL STATUS: What social class are they?
They are working / lower class.
EDUCATION: How would you rate their intelligence?
I would imagine that they have very little education, but are probably very street-wise.

 

PLACES: Where?

Critical Thinking - WhereCritical Thinking - Why
LOCATION: Where are they? What is the place like? What can you see there?
The photo is a close-up of the boys, so I can’t see where they are (from) exactly. My initial feeling was that they were English. However, the two boys on the left appear to have Italian features, which wouldn’t be possible in England at the time. As such, I figure that it’s in America. And, considering the era that this picture was taken and the warm clothing their wearing, I would imagine that this is set somewhere in East-Coast America.

 

TIME: When?

Critical Thinking - When?Critical Thinking - Why
WHEN: What time of day / day / month / year / era is this?
As the picture is in black and white and judging by the boys’ clothes, I imagine that this was taken during the Industrial Revolution, i.e. the late 1800s.

ACTIONS: What happens?

Critical Thinking - What happens?Critical Thinking - Why
ACTIONS: What do they do? What are they doing?
The boys are standing and posing for the photo. One of the boys has his hand on another boy’s shoulder. Some of the boys are smiling; some are not.
MANNER (of action): How did they do it?
They are standing closely, probably so that they can all get in the photo.
EVENTS: What happens / happened? How did it start / finish?
It looks like the boys have been working, doing some kind of dirty job. They might be working with coal.

FEELINGS: How… feel?

Critical Thinking - How feel?Critical Thinking - Why
PEOPLE’S EMOTIONS: How do they feel?
From their faces, it seems that there are different feelings and emotions among the boys. Some look calm and indifferent to having their picture taken; some look proud; some look happy and enthusiastic; and one boy in the middle looks sad.Aside from the last boy, there is a sense of stoicism about their emotions. They are probably suffering and sad, but aren’t showing these feelings openly.
PEOPLE’S OPINIONS: What do they think?
Again, I think there are mixed feelings. Some may feel hope or ambition that working hard will bring about happiness or prosperity – perhaps the prosperity that their clothing suggests they aspire for.Other boys may think that this is work is wrong and that they should be with their mothers and fathers.
YOUR OPINIONS: What do you think? Would you like to do this kind of work?
I would not want to do this kind of work. While I can imagine that the boys had a very strong camaraderie, this kind of work is dangerous and unrewarding. It is certainly wrong for children to be doing this kind of work. If anything, doing this work means that they cannot get an education.

EXTENDED QUESTIONS

It is at this point in my analysis that something dawns on me.

I’ve overlooked someone! Someone you can’t see in the picture. The photographer!

And, in doing so, I realise that I haven’t talked about the purpose of the photo.

As such, I will go through some of the questions again, but answer them in relation to the photographer.

 

PEOPLE & CHARACTERS: Who / What?

Critical Thinking - Who / WhatCritical Thinking - Why
NAME / ROLE: Who are they? What do they do?
They are the photographer. I can’t be 100% if it’s a man or woman but, considering the era, I would imagine that it’s a man.
AGE: How old are they?
I would imagine that the photographer is older than the boys, but not that old. I think that this photographer has a social agenda, something that is more common among young adults than older ones.
APPEARANCE: What do they look like? What are they wearing?
I don’t imagine that the photographer looked like these boys. I would think that he was wearing a nice suit and hat, and that this impressed the boys.
SOCIAL STATUS: What social class are they?
He is probably middle class, because he is not working in manual labour.
EDUCATION: How would you rate their intelligence?
He probably has a fairly good education. While learning to use a camera is something that can be learned through instruction (i.e. apprenticeship), this man’s social agenda suggests a stronger sense of justice and awareness of his nation.

ACTIONS: What happens?

Critical Thinking - What happens?Critical Thinking - Why
ACTIONS: What do they do? What are they doing?
He is taking a photo of the boys.
MANNER (of action): How did they do it?
He is probably acting very excitedly in order to get the boys to want to take their picture.
EVENTS: What happens / happened? How did it start / finish?
Did he sneak into this place, or was he given permission?

FEELINGS: How… feel?

Critical Thinking - How feel?Critical Thinking - Why
PEOPLE’S EMOTIONS: How do they feel?
I would imagine that this photographer feels bad for these boys. At the same time, I expect that he feels a sense of excitement that this photo opportunity presents for his future ambitions.
PEOPLE’S OPINIONS: What do they think?
I would hope that this man thinks that these boys should not be doing this job, and that child labour is wrong. It’s hard to know this for certain, though.If you ask boys to pose for a photo, you’re going to get a lot of fake reactions. Are the boys really happy when they’re smiling for this photo?Maybe they’re happy about the photo, but not about their work. However, this photo suggests that it captures their feelings about the work, not the photo; in which case, this photo is a little misrepresentative.
YOUR OPINIONS: What do you think? Would you like to do this kind of work?

I’m not sure if I’d ever want to be a photographer. However, I certainly like helping people in need, especially children.

In terms of photography and this photographer, there is a lot of conflict. There is the noble pursuit of using an art form to promote a social agenda to a population that has probably buried its head in the sand when it comes to exploitation.

On the other hand, I’m somewhat of a cynic. Is this photographer helping these kids out of the kindness of his heart, or is his helping himself more? It’s hard to judge without doing further research into the photographer. Hindsight certainly gives us the privilege to judge after.

Critical Thinking Notes Diagram

Critical Thinking: Example of making notes

Picture 2

SOURCE: http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-UI399_ilabor_G_20120828095407.jpg

 

TO BE CONTINUED IN NEXT CRITICAL THINKING POST!

One comment

  1. Critical Thinking For Kids in ActionPear Tree Education says:

    […] PART 2: CRITICAL THINKING FOR KIDS IN ACTION […]

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