Analytical Thinking

School has changed so much from when I was in school in the late 80s and even from when I taught in the mid 90s. The biggest change I am finding when we enrolled  Hannah and Jamilah at the middle school level is that the type of critical thinking or analytical reasoning that is now required on tests is one a whole new level.

Well, I know we have been asking for a change from rote recall to more analytical type of reasoning in schools but we are having a major problem adjusting.  My husband and I have attempted to help the girls with studying for their tests and they have even stayed after school to receive extra help from one of their teachers. But honestly, I am not  even sure how to teach these skills and somewhat frustrated as we are all putting so much time and energy into their studies with subpar results.

It seems that they are encountering these type of tests in science and social studies. There is a lot of information they need to extrapolate data and are required to reason. The other core classes, English, reading, and math seem to be more straightforward.

So if anyone can give suggestions, I would appreciate it.

4 responses to “Analytical Thinking

  1. anonymousmuslimah

    Assalamo lalaikum,

    Sorry I have no suggestions as I would really struggle with this myself (let alone trying to teach my children it!) May Allah help you all, ameen.

  2. Walaykumsalaam,
    I read this post an hour or so ago and have been thinking. Could you give us an example of the type of question please?
    In terms of social studies I am thinking along the lines of they are given a case study (for example of land use in a farming community) and are asked questions which begin “Why do you think…” or “What benefits do you think….” or they are asked for their opinions.
    Is it something like that? Or am I thinking along the wrong lines?
    For science are they given data from an experiment and asked to interpret what it shows or how it could be applied to life outside the lab?
    I don’t feel confident to suggest anything as I don’t fully understand what you need!
    I am amazed that your system has changed so much in such a short time. The exams I’m working on with my sons are very similar in style to what I did myself at school, alhamdulillah.

    • Wa alaikum as salaam ummrashid, Jazakillah khayran for your time and consideration. I emailed the social studies teacher, the one who tutors them weekly, and she sent me some links to practice quizzes and tests. I tried to copy and paste, but it won’t copy the images which are necessary to answer the question. The images may be diary entries of the explorers, maps, graphs showing years and populations, habitat images, etc. I think you are on the right track though. Alhamdulillah, we found these practice tests. I think they will help, insha allah.

  3. Ok, inshAllah.Our tests are full of these types of questions too. I think the way to approach it is through lots of discussion. When you look at the data discuss it first, before looking at the questions. Continuously ask them what each piece of evidence makes them think of. So, if it is a population graph and there are peaks and troughs ask them why they think that could be. Even if their answers are very inappropriate, it doesn’t matter at first, as at least they get thinking about it. The process of you directing them to the answer guides them to the pathways they need to be thinking along. I usually suggest some odd answers along with the sensible possibilities, so they can learn to sort between the two.
    in history or human geography the key word may be “empathy”. Over here there is lots of emphasis on that. Putting yourself in the place of a person in history or a social situation and trying to think of how you would respond. Of course sometimes this is quite artificial, as responses are based on cultural norms, and ours may be very different, but they expect a child to develop the skill of imagining themselves in someone elses’ shoes.
    Informally I think you could develop these skills more through discussing literature and characters. In science I imagine they have developed these skills through all their outdoor investigations. They just need to realise that they can apply those skills to bookwork too!
    Hope that helps in some way inshAllah! I much prefer this type of learning actually, because I find it hard to remember facts. I think you will all be enjoying it soon inshAllah.

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