Want to know how successful you’ll be in life or how well your company will compete in today’s volatile climate? It is hard to predict future outcomes like this, and it requires critical thinking performance. More than ever, the world needs critical thinkers to solve our complex problems. But these skills are trending in the wrong direction. Rather than getting better at recognizing fake news, evaluating information sources, or making rational decisions, we’re getting worse.
The good news is that you already have a tool for reversing this trend and developing critical thinking skills in your organization: the graphic organizer. This post explores an exciting application for this ubiquitous tool, which will teach people how to think.
Critical Thinking Is a Survival Skill, and We’re Losing ItCritical thinking is a term that covers a collection of cognitive skills that help us get along in the world. Our ability to evaluate what we read, recognize false and unsupported claims, question the validity of sources, and make connections between multiple sources of content are all critical thinking skills. The British Journal of Educational Technology identifies critical thinking as one of the essential digital literacy competencies, and our collective abilities are trending in the wrong direction at an alarming rate.
Since Nicholas Carr alerted us to how the internet is changing the way we make decisions, the global loss of critical thinking skills can be measured in terms of the increase in a vast amount of conspiracy theories. Obviously, we can’t solve all those problems with a simple tool, but you can help your team make incremental improvements in how they process information, recognize patterns, and make decisions.
How Can Graphic Organizers Help?A graphic organizer is any visual representation of information in a structured, visual form. There are many types—mind maps, content maps, story maps, and infographics—of specialized graphic organizers.
If you’ve ever inserted a table into your training materials, you’ve used a graphic organizer. But the power of graphic organizers isn’t in how easy they make it to consume information—it’s what happens in our brains when we create one. Let’s say you have a portfolio of products that new employees need to learn. Some products are great for large enterprise solutions, while others are better for small to mid-size companies. So, you decide to make a table.
||Small and Midsize Solutions
To prepare this table for learners, you needed to evaluate features of each product in terms of its potential to benefit each type of business. That’s an example of critical thinking. (Notice that the one who’s doing the critical thinking is the person who builds the table, not the one who refers to it later.)