It seems obvious: we are all born with the innate ability to think. In fact, it is something that all human beings share. But why, then, do our ideas often differ from those of others? Because, apart from that ability, we develop what is known as 'critical thinking'. Herein lies the key to the importance of giving children the freedom to think for themselves.
We live in an age of over-information and over-stimulation. We receive information stimuli everywhere: social networks, television, digital media, radio and word of mouth are part of our daily lives. Usually, the same piece of news looks completely different depending on the source we choose to inform ourselves about it. Beyond this, is everything we hear true? This last reflection is quite important because, as you may know, over-information leads us headlong into false news, better known as fake news.
Fake news is intimately related to the ability of human beings to think for themselves, beyond the information they receive. An ability that is obtained through critical thinking. And that is precisely the way we have to teach children to think: they must think critically, learn to do so in childhood and never stop doing so.
"If your child doesn't have the same opinion or doesn't think about a subject in the same way as you do, it will give them the opportunity and strengthen their ability to build their own unique way of thinking," the psychologists at the Sens Psicología clinic tell Ser Padres.
Why should your child know how to think critically?
If you don't want them to be conformed with absolutely everything that is put in front of them, if you don't want them to be able to tell the difference between when they are being lied to and when they are being told the truth, or simply to continue nurturing that innate nature that children have from an early age, teach your child to think critically.
"The personal reason why it is good for a child to philosophise in childhood is because it works on thinking skills that allow them to think better, to be more autonomous, to think for themselves and so it is harder for them to be deceived," says Jordi Nomen, author of the book Filosofía para Niños (Arpa Editores). He has been teaching philosophy to children for twenty years from a different perspective: with the aim that they learn to think for themselves.
Apart from this reason, this professional also argues the social importance of children knowing how to think: "That a child understands that reason is not all or nothing, but that it is a part. That we have different opinions and that diversity is a good thing and that when there is a conflict we have to negotiate it to find common ground", he assures.
How do you teach a child to think?
Quality time is essential: Take advantage of quality time with your child to talk to them about everything they are willing to talk about. Dialogue, question, argue, listen and validate their opinions.
Thinking routines. In the 1960s, David Perkins developed 'thinking routines', "simple patterns made up of open-ended questions or statements that invite you to think about a certain topic or aspect of reality". Thanks to them, the child will learn to think autonomously and self-sufficiently, assessing what is best according to his or her needs. In this case, it is not so much the conclusion they reach that is important, but the path they take. At Coruña British International School we work with them, but it would be good for them that this is continued at home.
Nurture their innate curiosity. This is perhaps the best advice we can give. In order for the child to learn to think it is necessary to dialogue with him or her. It is necessary to actively listen to their questions, the 'why' stage and their curiosity. But, above all, it is necessary not to give automatic answers, but to nurture this curiosity so that it never ends. An example: if your child asks you why the sky is blue, don't answer the first thing that pops into your head. Feed their question: 'What do you think? Spend some quality time with your child until, together, you come to a conclusion that seems right.