Critical thinking requires the ability to think deeply and analytically while being flexible and adaptable.
A critical thinker will not necessarily be more rational than another person, but a critical thinker will be better able to make rational decisions that are in the best interest of society and the environment. Critical thinking can be a valuable ability to possess for many people, and it is particularly useful in our modern age.
Critical thinking is not necessarily a good thing, but there are some things that it is better than. For example, one critical thinker may be more rational than another, but an irrational thinker is a greater threat to society. An irrational thinker can cause more harm than a critical thinker.
The rise of social media is changing the way we think, write, and connect with one another. This is particularly true for those of us in positions of power in the political sphere. For better or worse, social media are enabling us to communicate rapidly and widely with our fellow citizens, which in turn impacts how we think and act in important ways.
The power of social media to affect how we think and act has been well established by psychologists and political scientists alike, who have found that social media can both improve our mental well-being, and be used to manipulate and even destroy lives.
10 Strategies To Help Students Use Social Media For Critical Thinking
Social media is here to stay. No matter how much we lament a loss of privacy, too much screen time, superficial identity, or countless other worries, media has been around since language was invented, and we have always sought to make that media as social as locally available technology would allow.
There are some techniques that may help develop critical thinking using social media.
1. Think purpose, not platform.
Connect students through function and purpose, not technology and gadgets
2. Use social media to establish context.
Use social media to help students establish a context for themselves
3. Model intellectual tolerance.
Model for students how to relate to others who are different–then think, look, and act differently than what they’re accustomed to, and how to respond to ideas different from their own.
And do so not simply from an ethical ‘be kind’ perspective, but from an intellectual one as well. A big part of intelligence is being able to learn from anything, and a big part of that is the ability to evaluate ideas without personal bias, as well as the ability to sit with an idea and analyze it without accepting or rejecting it.
4. Illuminate interdependence.
Help students clarify for themselves who and what they’re connected to–the obvious and less obvious. Encourage students to identify multiple “citizenships” they belong to, both locally and digitally and their diverse participation within each.
5. Extend conceptual comfort zones.
Use place-based education and project-based learning to help students make new connections to people, places, and ideas outside of the curriculum map
6. Clarify categories of knowledge.
Help students see knowledge in categories–academic vs recreational; creative vs industrial, fluid vs fixed, etc–and how social media emphasize, supports, or otherwise makes these available. If they can at least begin to see these categories, they can be more aware of what they’re ‘ingesting.’
7. Analyze and compare citizenship and digital citizenship.
Help students see the effects of their behaviour on others, and of others’ behaviour on them. Further, offer digital citizenship strategies like “THINK!” so they have a kind of framework for doing so on their own.
8. Amplify cognition.
Have a new idea? Share it with others who are interested in those kinds of ideas.
Document the ‘process’ of that idea–where it came from, how it changed, what influenced it, what you can do with it, and so on. Amplify that understanding using the connected and creative abilities of social media.
9. Analyze how the form affects the message.
Perspective is a big part of social media, as is identity and idea form (video versus tweet versus images, etc.) If students can see how the form of the message affects the message itself, they can think ‘around’ and through the platform and see ideas and their roots themselves.
Have students concept map their own interdependence in a given context (home, family, hobby, neighbourhood, classroom, content area, etc.)
10. Seek authenticity.
Assist students in identifying authentic roles in a community they care about.
To be “authentic,” the roles should naturally exist and allow a visible void when left unfilled, providing the student with a meaningful role that matters.
A lot of people think social media is a waste of time. That’s what we hear when we do a workshop on social media. When we look at the data, we see that most people still use social media as the equivalent of watching television, surfing the internet, playing video games or talking about gossip with the kids.
But it’s the wrong perspective to look at social media through. We’ve got to look at social media through the lens of what it is for you. What is its purpose? What problems does it solve? What is your value in it? What are you going to get out of it? Why should I be using it? You need to ask those questions in the framework of the social world. We have social media. That’s what makes it a social world.
And you have already seen it can help develop critical thinking skills, as well.