What Is a Thinking Skill?

blooms-taxonomy-2-150x150To “think” is to use your mind actively to connect thoughts, ideas and facts together to generate new ones. Using Bloom’s redesigned taxonomy as a guide we can see that thinking begins with the ability to “remember” and develops through several stages to “creating.” These stages are called higher order thinking skills. They are the skills we use every day jto problem solve, and think critically. They are also the skills that students will be asked to demonstrate using the Common Core of knowledge on the PARCC test.

To be able to get to the highest level of create, we need certain skills:

  • A strong working memory (or a reliable way to help it)
  • Ability to interpret information
  • Make inferences
  • Compare and contrast
  • Ask questions
  • Look for new connections
  • Analyze information
  • Think “outside the box”
  • Become an active learner
  • Think about your thinking
  • Take chances and don’t be afraid of failure

We all have areas we are stronger in than others. Here are some of the executive function skills that can impact your ability to think and create. Can you see how difficulty with any of these skills can hinder your ability?

  • Getting started – are you getting the things that need to be done, done?
  • Focus – can you work long enough with enough attention to detail to finish accurately?
  • Inhibit – are you impulsive?
  • Monitor – do you see how your actions affect others?
  • Cognitive flexibility – do you get stuck in your thinking or continue to do things the same way expecting a different result?
  • Working memory – forget what you are doing or how to do it, temporarily?
  • Emotional control – can you control your emotions through frustration, anger, stress, and/or boredom?
  • Metacognition – are you able to think about your thinking?

How do these skills play out in the real world? For adults, it may be about making a good decision, solving a problem in a unique way, or putting information together in a new way that leads to something improved. It is about having a spark of an idea and being able to slowly ignite it into something wonderful. Thinking is what keeps us and the world moving forward. Teaching students how to “think” and solve problems is essential for humanities sake. After all, who knows who will solve the BIG problems the world faces?

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