Critical Thinking Project
The premise behind this project is the development of critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills need to be taught as they provide students with essential life skills that help with but also go beyond academic achievement.
The following extract is taken from UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ 2019 message on International Youth Day, observed on 12 August:
International Youth Day is 20 years old. This year, Youth Day highlights the theme of “Transforming Education” to make it more inclusive, accessible and relevant to today’s world.
We are facing a learning crisis. Too often, schools are not equipping young people with the skills they need to navigate the technological revolution. Students need not just to learn, but to learn how to learn.
Education today should combine knowledge, life skills and critical thinking. It should include information on sustainability and climate change. And it should advance gender equality, human rights and a culture of peace.
All these elements are included in Youth 2030, the United Nations strategy to increase our engagement with young people and support them in realizing their rights. Today, we celebrate the young people, youth-led organizations, Governments and others who are working to transform education and uplift young people everywhere.
This aim of this project is to address the teaching of critical thinking skills in order to equip students with an understanding of how to think and learn.
The main idea behind the project is for students to think about their thinking: to develop their metacognitive skills. They will also practise the skills of self-regulation, self-evaluation, listening, collaboration, skim reading, definition-finding, analysis, evaluation, goal setting, decision-making, and public speaking.
This project can be differentiated so that it challenges students from a wide age range. The duration of the project will depend on a variety of factors. At its minimum time frame, this project will last between 8 and 10 hours.
The project is suitable for a class or year group project, for a series of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), Critical Thinking lessons, Modern Studies, Politics, Civics or Citizenship lessons. It would also suit an end of semester project.
Scriven (1996) highlighted the importance of critical thinking as,
“…the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action"
Angelo (1995) points to critical thinking
"… as the intentional application of rational, higher order thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, problem recognition and problem solving, inference, and evaluation"
These skills complement but also transcend the learning and teaching of content, and once taught and practised, they can become the tools upon which students can draw to navigate the world around them.
The project includes individual tasks, group tasks, the possible use of ICT, literacy and numeracy. The worksheets can be used by students or used by the teacher as a guide to structuring each task. Sticky dots and sticky notes would be useful for Task E.
The tasks and skills contained within this project can help schools to meet national education targets such as:
Learning for Sustainability (GTCS Professional Standards Framework):
Equality and justice and recognising the rights and responsibilities of future as well as current generations
Committing to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policies and practices in relation to: age, disability, gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion and belief and sexual orientation.
Valuing as well as respecting social, cultural and ecological diversity and promoting the principles and practices of local and global citizenship for all learners.
Demonstrating a commitment to engaging learners in real world issues to enhance learning experiences and outcomes, and to encourage learning our way to a better future.
Respecting the rights of all learners as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and their entitlement to be included in decisions regarding their learning experiences and have all aspects of their well-being developed and supported.
In this project, students will use critical thinking strategies in order to research, analyse, evaluate and make judgements about possible strategies to tackle poverty in the fictional country, Darwan.
As an introduction to the fictional country of Darwan, here is a video showing an overview:
The Project exposition begins here:
The teacher can begin by introducing the concept of critical thinking. The first three slides of the presentation can be used at this point.
It is important for the teacher to use repeatedly and consistently the terminology associated with critical thinking so that students are aware of what they are doing.
The teacher could begin with a short exposition demonstrating their thought processes. Here, the teacher is verbalising the issue and demonstrating the way that they linked ideas with their prior learning and ultimately arrived at a solution.
The teacher could present a scenario where he/she is considering his/her mode of transport to school in terms of convenience, cost, time and environmental impact:
This morning I drove to school in my car. I know that this is not very environmentally-friendly, especially since it takes diesel fuel. I could have taken my bike but it was raining and I would have been wet on arrival to school. It also takes twice as long as the car journey and I had got up late that morning. I took the bus a few weeks ago and the journey was shorter than my car journey because the bus can travel in the designated bus lane. This means that it can avoid all of the traffic. I read in the local newspaper last week that buses in the city use Eco-fuels. The bus has free WiFi so I could listen to my favourite podcast on my way to work. The bus stop is right outside the school gates. I think the best option is to take the bus during the school week and only use my car when going to the supermarket on the weekends.
The teacher should tell the students that what he/she has just demonstrated is known as ‘thinking out loud’ and that this is going to be a very important thinking skill that they will be practising during this project. The teacher should mention that one of the benefits of this thinking approach is that different ideas can be explored and weighed up before a decision is made, as opposed to making a snap decision and then have to quickly think of ideas to justify it or backtrack and abandon it.
The teacher should explain that communication is also going to be an important skill that students will practise during this project. The next task requires clarity of instruction and careful listening skills from the students.
The teacher should now divide the class into small groups (no more than 6 students). One student should be selected to come out to the front of the room. This student will be the ‘builder’. The builder be given 8 pieces of Lego and will build a random structure using the pieces of Lego provided.The same style and number of pieces of Lego should be given to each group.
The groups are now required to replicate it exactly, including the size and color. Only one member from the group can check out the original structure at a time and go back to describe it to the team while they try and create the structure.
Task A: Introduction to Darwan.
The presentation can be accessed here.
Slide 4 in the presentation can now be shown. The teacher introduces the premise of the project: the students will be assessing the current state of the fictional country of Darwan.
Slide 5 incorporates a video about Darwan. The video lasts a little over three minutes. Before the video is played, the teacher could offer students a small piece of plain paper and ask them to sketch note some of the main ideas that they hear in the video. This could involve stick people, words, symbols or more elaborate drawings. More information about sketch noting as a learning tool can be found here.
Slide 6 asks students to consider which groups of people may enjoy living in Darwan, and which groups would face challenges. The teacher should prompt students by asking students to explain their ideas. A simple way to do this is to adopt the Hochman Method. While this method relates to the improvement of literacy through writing, it could be employed easily to this scenario:
If a teacher poses the question:
“Which groups may face challenges in Darwan?”
A student may give the answer as:
The teacher should tell students that answers will only be accepted if they are followed with the words “because…..so…..but” These words could be written up onto a white board to remind students.
An answer using the Hochman Method would be:
"Ethnic minorities would face more challenges because they suffer from higher levels of homelessness so this would mean that they will struggle to find employment but if the government builds more suitable and affordable houses, ethnic minorities will not face such inequalities.” The teacher may wish to stretch their students and could require more complex sentence structures that need to begin with the following words:
As a result
This could remain an oral task, however it could also be translated into a written task.
More information about the Hochman Method in action can be found here.
Slide 7 shows the three infographics that can be printed and perhaps laminated for future use.
In small groups (6 is ideal), students should look through the brief points that relate to the make-up of Darwan.
These points offer additional information about Darwan in relation to its:
Electricity by voltage
Not all of this information will be immediately relevant to the students. They will need to sift through the infographics for relevant information. This act is an example of being able to think critically about information that adds to the requirements of the task, and being able to sidestep information that may distract them or is actually irrelevant to them at this point.
Depending on the age and ability of the students, it may be useful to use the Important Vocabulary worksheets (Slide 8 and below) to note any definitions of words that are unfamiliar to them. They can be encouraged to look up the words or try to infer the meaning of some of the words from the sentences. Students should be encouraged to add in more words or phrases which are unfamiliar to them:
If time is an issue, it may be more beneficial if the definitions are presented to the students at the same time as the infographic.
Students should then move on, in their groups, to make an initial analysis of the country of Darwan using the three analysis worksheets. These are shown on Slide 10. Their notes and sketch notes from the video may also be used for this task:
The point of this task is to get students to think about how to categorise different factors. One idea could be modelled by the teacher, for example:
If we were to look at the second infographic, we would categorise ‘Civil Rights’ as a political factor. Although it is related to society, it is a legal issue and we can see from the text that rights are not protected or guaranteed by the Human Rights Act, particularly those of pressure group members and activists.
The teacher should lead a whole class discussion asking for ideas from each group. The student responses should be followed up with the question:
What would the implication of this issue be if this were to continue in the long-term?
Slide 11 requires the teacher to pose two follow up questions:
What predictions can you make about the future of Darwan?
What additional information about Darwan would be helpful at this point?
Students should be given thinking time to write down two or more responses. They can use the Critical Analysis worksheet (Slide 12) to help them organise their ideas:
Each student will then turn to the person next to them and discuss their ideas. The pairs must combine their ideas and come up with the two best answers to the two questions. These should be added to their worksheet. The teacher will then ask for feedback from each of the pairs in front of the whole class.
By this point, students will be gaining in confidence as no one knows any more than anyone else does at this stage. Be aware that for some students this will present frustrations especially if they are used to being the best in the class in relation to a particular topic area. This task places all students on a level playing field which should encourage a growth mindset.
TASK B: Analysis of the Briefing Paper on Poverty in Darwan.
The next next task is to read the Briefing Paper on poverty in Darwan (Slide 14). Students should be encouraged to skim read the article first to identify sub-headings.
The teacher should ask students what they think the Briefing Paper is about. This is a simple question, but it is valuable because it is guiding students in how to approach an extended piece of text. For some students, a piece of continuous prose of this length will feel overwhelming. However, if the teacher can model a way to break down the text, students can feel as though it is more manageable than they may have first believed.
The students should skim read the text in the first instance. The teacher could explain what this means. The website, myspeedreading.com states that skimming:
is the strategy to get the main idea or the most important point in the passage or book.
involves running your eyes through the texts, visually searching the sentences and passages of a page for clues.
implies looking only for the general or main ideas. This is especially suitable for factual material and one can skip the rest while looking for the important issues.
is to know what is happening. It is just like glancing through something to know what it is about.
Students should then be given dedicated reading time.
During this time they should be encouraged to underline or highlight any words or phrases that are unfamiliar to them.
The teacher should go around the room assisting students with these terms (or if time allows, students could look up the words themselves) and helping them to infer meaning from the text. This is not the same as guessing – guessing should not be encouraged. The teacher could help students to identify parts of a difficult word in order to ‘work out’ the meaning.
The teacher should encourage students to self-monitor and self-regulate. This can be done by stopping students after a few minutes of reading the first section of the text and asking:
What is the issue that you are reading about?
Does this information link with anything that you already know about poverty in Darwan?
The teacher could then ask students to pause after a few more minutes has passed (depending on the reading speed and ability of the class) and pose questions, such as:
How would you explain this issue to a five-year-old?
What conclusion(s) can you draw from the information in the Briefing Paper?
Schraw (1998) outlines the processes required to foster and encourage meta cognition, or ‘thinking about thinking’:
1. Slow down (Stop, read and think about the information)
2. Activate prior knowledge (What do you already know? What don't you know?)
3. Mental integration (Relate main ideas. Use these to construct a theme or conclusion)
The Briefing Paper task is a ideal opportunity for meta cognition to be talked about by the teacher and practised by the students. The task encourages students to think about their thinking and the process of learning. Instead of passively reading, they are encouraged to self-monitor and ask themselves questions about their grasp and interpretation of the information.
The students should now make their notes about poverty in Darwan using the Briefing Paper and Knowledge Organiser (Slide 15). They should identify four significant points that they feel are worthy of mention. There are many more – this will result in students selecting different ideas/statistics/quotations.
All students need to write a sentence showing the link between the four points. The link could be a cause or short/long-term impact. It could be that gender or ethnicity links all of the points, or perhaps a lack of healthcare or a comprehensive welfare state.
The teacher could now lead a problem solving task as follows:
The idea is that Issue A leads to Issue B which leads to Issue C. Teachers may choose to hand out blank templates of this Road to Poverty worksheet for student to complete. The above example can be used by the teacher as a model.
The teacher should move around the room asking questions and offering prompts for students that are finding this task challenging. One way to prompt a student would be to ask:
Imagine if you were in that position. What would it mean for your future prospects? What kinds of things would you be able to do in society? What kinds of things would be very difficult for you to do if you were facing this issue?
Another option could be for the teacher to present this simple flow diagram:
The teacher explains that students need to try to find links between some of the ideas that they have discussed and read about so far.
The teacher could model his/her thinking so that the processes are clear to the students. Students can see how he/she is actively thinking out loud about the relationship between ideas and using the Hochman Method to deepen the analytical thinking.
The teacher might say:
If I begin with the issue of gender in Darwan: I can make a judgement that women experience more income and inequality than men. This is because they do not receive maternity benefit from the government. When gender is linked to ethnicity, we can see that income inequality is greater for ethnic minority women, particularly women from the Romany community. As a result, it could be argued that there is a direct correlation between gender, ethnicity and poverty. This is because ethnic minority women experience discrimination and a lack of access to education. Ethnic minority males also experience a lack of opportunities, however this is not as great as those experienced by their female counterparts.
So the teacher could ask students to write down their ideas on some paper. A writing frame could be offered, such as:
From the evidence, I can make a judgement that…….This is because…….When this issue is linked to…….it is clear that……..As a result,…..This is because…
TASK C: Analysis of graphical data
The next task requires students to analyse and draw conclusions from graphical data.
There are six sources that can be used in this task: four bar charts, one line graph and one doughnut pie chart. Each graph reveals information about poverty in Darwan.
Students will have the opportunity to make connections between and within the graphs.
In groups of six, students can be allocated one graph each:
Graph 1 shows the relationship between child poverty and ethnicity in Darwan.
Graph 2 shows the average school-leaver age by ethnicity in Darwan.
Graph 3 shows a projection of poverty levels in Darwan.
Graph 4 shows levels of homelessness by ethnicity and gender in Darwan.
Graph 5 shows life expectancy of males in Darwan according to ethnicity.
Graph 6 shows life expectancy of females in Darwan according to ethnicity.
Students should be encouraged to spend a few minutes interpreting their graph. They can use the worksheet below to help them organise their thoughts. The worksheet shows the process of reading and interpreting the graph.
The teacher could move around the room during this task offering guidance. Some students will find this task challenging. This is because they need to identify relationships between the factors shown in the graphs. Where students struggle with this interpretation task, they can be encouraged to verbalise their thinking about what they are seeing before them.
Some students may be able to comment that poverty will go up (Graph 3) but they could be prompted to think in terms of ‘a gradual increase over the course of the next 45 years’. Depending on the ability level of the class, it could be wise for the teacher to use this as an example of the level of thinking and interpretation that is desirable here.
Once each student has completed the task above, they should form a group of six so that each graph is represented. One person in the group should be designated as the scribe. Each person within the group will tell their peers what they found out from their graph. The scribe will collate the ideas and complete the first section of the following knowledge organiser:
The scribe should now pose the subsequent four questions to the group. These questions require students to move from knowledge-acquisition to deeper analysis of why poverty needs to be tackled and the social, economic and political implications of poverty in Darwan. Students are required to draw upon their prior knowledge and think critically about the implications of the information that they have gathered up to this point.
A whole class discussion can follow where ideas of the groups are shared. Groups can note any new ideas to their worksheets.
This will help the groups to keep building up a base of knowledge, understanding and analysis of the issues facing Darwan.
TASK D: Analysis of textual and visual sources of information
Within their groups, students will move on to analyse six textual/visual sources.
A short discussion could be led by the teacher about the importance of assessing the credibility of sources of information. Students may link this idea to the prevalence of fake news today.
The teacher could ask the students how they might ascertain whether a source of information is credible or reliable. The teacher could then ask students about the political affiliations of national newspapers, the broadcasting regulations that television is bound by (UK), the sources of information found on social media etc.
The teacher should ask students if all sources are useful even if they are fake news or biased. The teacher could point to recent examples of fake news to discuss this further. The teacher could then ask if state-funded newspapers and TV news programmes are reliable and /or useful. The teacher should encourage students to develop their ideas by using ‘because’ in order to explain their points.
The Credibility Checker should be introduced to students. This is shown below and appears on Slide 23:
Students should each be given the following Individual Source Analysis worksheet so that they are ready when they receive their source:
In groups of six, students will each be given a source of information to read and analyse:
A newspaper report
A pressure group newsletter
Political opposition party poster
Government website page
Tweet from a TV presenter
Students will now engage in a group discussion sharing their analysis of their sources. It is important to note that this is not a fact-finding task, but instead an analysis of the credibility of the source that they have. The students should judge their source against the criteria shown on the Credibility Checker.
A new scribe is appointed in the group and together, the students discuss their thoughts. The following Source Analysis document can be used by the group to prompt them to find corroboration, contractions, truthfulness, claims and motivations. The group will also have to consider the use and choice of images in the sources. (all sources except the Tweet include images):
The scribe can collate the key points from all six sources and record on this Group Analysis Knowledge Organiser:
The final section of the Key Points knowledge organiser requires students to think creatively. They must try to think of three strategies that would help to tackle poverty in Darwan. They will need to draw upon their prior knowledge of Darwan and consult their notes to help them.
The students could think about the following questions:
How does this strategy compare to other strategies in terms of its probable cost of implementing?
How could this strategy reduce poverty?
In contrast to the other strategies, how far does this strategy impact the greatest number of citizens?
Depending on ability, the teacher may not need to offer prompts for strategies. However, it may be the case that guidance is required. The following strategies are not exhaustive, but may assist the teacher in prompting students:
Possible strategies to tackle poverty in Darwan
Raise income tax for higher earners and raise corporation tax for businesses. This could be ploughed into the welfare state (education, healthcare, benefits system & housing). When tax rates are progressive near the top, they can make a real difference in altering the structure of inequality. If everyone paid a "fair share" of the overall tax burden those living with socio-economic deprivation would not suffer to such an extent.
Lower VAT so that consumer goods are more affordable for all citizens. As a regressive tax that takes no account of income, VAT inevitably squeezes low earners. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested that VAT is "progressive" since the poorest spend a higher proportion of their disposable income on VAT-exempt goods such as food, children's clothes and domestic fuel and power. But this analysis fails to take account of changing spending patterns. As the ONS report notes, the poorest fifth now spend 250% more on "new cars, holidays abroad, meals out, audio/visual goods (including TVs) and photographic equipment" than they did in 1986. As a result, VAT has become more, not less, regressive in the last 25 years.
Introduce state-funded vaccinations. This would impact the poorest in society. It would help tackle preventable childhood diseases which can result in disability (measles can cause blindness, for example) and ultimately an inability to access education, gain employment and an income.
The government could commit to providing free nursery care so that parents are able to work and earn an income.
Education from the ages of 15-18 should be state funded so that all children have equal access to the opportunity that education can bring. Without this education (which must be privately funded), children cannot hope to gain access to higher education. Without a degree, citizens cannot enter white-collar employment and cannot gain access to a bank account.
Ban zero hour contracts. These do not provide socio-economic stability. Citizens cannot hope to save money or plan for their futures. Pensions cannot be built up over time. This will ensure poverty in old age.
Improve provision for the elderly by providing carers or state-run sheltered housing.
Medical supplies should be made free to all to ensure health equality. Darwan should seek to create medical research facilities so that new technologies and pharmaceutical drugs and treatments can be developed. This would reduce Darwan’s reliance on importing expensive medical supplies.
The government could reduce spending on its military (when there is no immediate threat) and divert this money to state-funded housing. This would reduce the homelessness issue that Darwan faces.
Change the electoral system to one that is based on Proportional Representation. This would mean that fewer voices would be marginalised, independent candidates would have a greater chance of gaining representation and parties would not be elected on small majorities. A parliament that is more representative of the citizens of Darwan is more likely to address the current significant social and economic problems.
Regulate the cobalt industry to ensure safeguards are in place to protect the workers from preventable health issues.
Improve inclusivity for disabled people in society. This could be tackled by providing modified housing and benefits for those that are unable to work.
Mental healthcare should be addressed. It is widely accepted that poverty is linked to mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression. This could lower the suicide rate in Darwan, which is the highest in the continent of Tegara.
Fuel poverty needs to be tackled by the government. Negotiating a better deal with Darwan’s foreign suppliers of energy would enable more people to heat their homes and fewer to die of hypothermia in the winter months.
Introduce rehabilitation schemes in prisons, such as education and mental health support, so that on release, former prisoners are able to integrate into and contribute to society.
Give pressure groups more freedom to research, report and protest. This will enhance democracy and allow socio-economic and political issues to be discussed and debated.
Allow a free press so that investigative journalism can shed light on poverty in Darwan. Ideas about how to tackle poverty can be generated through reading and discussion.
Introduce Universal Basic Income to raise all citizens up out of poverty by providing them with more social and economic stability. This will make citizens feel valued and as though there is hope for their future.
Improve the rights of minority groups so that they are not marginalised. As a result of only English (the main language of Darwan) being used in schools, ethnic minorities that do not speak English, are excluded from education and latterly employment opportunities are reduced. This results in citizens being polarised into groups. The consequences of this is that citizens do not assimilate and self-segregate.
The third sector could be funded by the government to help provide food banks which could help to tackle food poverty.
TASK E: Decision-making Task
Once students have decided upon three different strategies, they need to consider the arguments in support and against them. The purpose of this is for them to decide upon the one strategy that they feel will have the most significant impact on reducing poverty in Darwan.
This task will take at least 40 minutes.
Each member of the group could be assigned a ‘thinking hat’ in accordance with de Bono’s ‘Thinking Hats’, as follows:
The group will need to re-visit their prior knowledge and analyse the three strategies chosen. The students could use the SWOT analysis worksheets to help them evaluate each strategy in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities (are there external factors that could contribute to the success of the strategy?) and threats (what obstacles could occur?)
In order to avoid ‘group think’ and to ensure that all voices are heard, students should embark upon the SWOT analysis on their own to begin with. Each student can be given some sticky notes so that they can jot down their SWOT ideas for each strategy in turn. Around 10 minutes could be allocated to each strategy. This will be dependent on the group’s ability. The teacher may need to ciculate offering support.
Once this time is up, the group should re-convene and stick all of the sticky notes on a wall in a SWOT analysis formation – see Slides 36 and 37. This will need to be done for each of the three strategies.
The group should now consult the wall and discuss their findings and evaluations. Each member of the group should be given a sticky dot so that they can vote for the strategy they believe to be the most convincing in terms of being able to reduce poverty in Darwan.
Based on the voting exercise, the group should have one strategy that they will use for the next presentation task.
Students can be encouraged to think about their strategies in the following terms:
An example would be: How do we get from greater equality for ethnic minority females (A) to greater representation of female voices in Parliament (C) if racism (B) is an obstacle?
Another example would be: How do we get from greater income equality for all (A) to a reduction in homelessness (C) if the lack of state-funded homes (B) is an obstacle?
By thinking in such terms, students are forced to face problems head on and find solutions. This enables them to practise their creative thinking skills.
TASK F: Presentation Task
In their groups, students will now work together to create a presentation that will outline the strategy that they have chosen.
The teacher should advise the students of the length of the presentation (no more than 5 minutes)and outline the criteria:
The context of the issue – how does poverty impact Darwan?
The group must identify why poverty needs to be tackled in Darwan.
The group must discuss the social, economic and political implications of poverty in Darwan.
The group must put forward between three and five compelling arguments that support the strategy that they have chosen.
They must identify the impact that their chosen strategy will have.
They must highlight the other two strategies that they initially chose and offer analysis about why they did not choose them.
They need to be prepared to answer questions from their peers about their strategy so they need to have considered the arguments that would not support their strategy.
Depending on resources and skill-level of the students, the teacher may opt for a presentation using Power Point/Keynote, Prezi, Adobe Spark video (available to use freely), poster paper and pens etc. Students could write a report if appropriate or create a broadcast that they can record and share in the classroom.
Roles may be allocated as follows:
Students could use the following knowledge-organiser to help them structure their arguments that support their chosen strategy. This could be printed as a double-sided copy so that students may note the arguments that do not support their strategy. This will assist them for the challenge of being questioned by their peers at the end of their presentation.
This task may take around 35 minutes depending on the students. The teacher should encourage the use of meta cognitive strategies for this task by advising students of the importance of:
Planning their presentation
Monitoring their progress
Evaluating their work.
The teacher should advise the Leader that this should be the structure of the task. The teacher will advise the time keeper that after 15 minutes the group should pause and reflect on their progress. They should then evaluate what they have achieved and what they have left to do to achieve their goal (in line with the criteria). These command terms (Plan, Monitor, Evaluate) could be noted on the white board. This terminology should be used so that it becomes the vocabulary of the classroom and becomes part of the thinking processes of the students.
While each group is presenting, students should be encouraged to make notes and have a question or two prepared to challenge the strategy that each group has chosen. Students should also be encouraged to ask questions that demand greater clarification or detail.
The teacher can write all of the strategies on the board. Once all of the presentations are completed, the teacher should ask students to cast a vote on a piece of paper to show their support for their favoured strategy to tackle poverty in Darwan.
The teacher or a student can collate all of the votes and count them. The ‘winning’ strategy is the one with the most votes.
TASK G: Additional Challenges
The following tasks can be introduced after the presentation which offer greater academic challenge. Individual teachers will assess the appropriateness of these ideas for their students.
Analysis of the role of international organisations in tackling poverty
The following text is taken from the United Nations:
For 15 years, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a guiding force on many issues affecting the lives of children, young people and their families. Over this time, tremendous progress was made in reducing preventable child deaths, getting more children into schools, reducing extreme poverty and ensuring more people have access to safe water and nutritious food.
However, progress has been uneven and many of the most pressing issues for the world -- including addressing inequalities, promoting inclusive economic growth, protecting children from violence and combating climate change -- were not adequately covered in the MDGs.
With the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September of 2015, world leaders have committed to ending poverty by 2030. But unless accelerated efforts are made:
Almost 52 million children may die before reaching their fifth birthday between 2019 and 2030.
Children in sub-Saharan Africa will be 16 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in high-income countries.
Nine out of 10 children living in extreme poverty will live in sub-Saharan Africa.
More than 60 million primary school-aged children will be out of school – roughly the same number as are out of school today. More than half will be from sub-Saharan Africa.
More than 150 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030.
These vast inequities and dangers do more than violate the rights and imperil the futures of individual children. They perpetuate intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and inequality that undermine the stability of societies and even the security of nations everywhere.
Children and the UN system
From the focus on education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to the efforts of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to abolish child labor, to the Children and Youth Programme of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to the nutritional work for mothers and young children provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), to disease-eradication campaigns by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN system is there for children.
The teacher could ask students to research and evaluate the work of the following organisations within the UN that are tasked with helping to reduce inequalities for children and eradicate poverty:
Analysis of inequalities
Students could be encouraged to visit the inequality.org website.
Students can select an inequality from:
This website can be accessed to assess Education inequality.
There are multiple opportunities within this online resource to analyse graphical data. Students could analyse the graphs presented and write a briefing report about the issues relating to their chosen inequality. They could then offer an analysis of the short term and long term implications of their chosen inequality.
Utopia for Realists
If teachers can access a copy of Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman chapters can be offered to students to read and write a synopsis of Bregman’s main arguments relating to poverty and how it can be tackled. Students could then formulate arguments for and against Bregman’s thesis. This could translate into a class debate or a discursive essay.
These questions will generate debate and discussion, encourage fluid thinking, draw upon prior-knowledge and encourage listening skills. Very able students may go beyond the confines of the question itself and even question the validity of the question or the terms used within the question.
“To photograph is to confer importance” (Susan Sontag). Discuss.
“We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.” How far do you agree with this statement by John Berger?
“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” (Mahatma Gandhi) Discuss.
How far do you agree with the view of Aristotle, that, “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime”?
Theodore Parker wrote, “As society advances the standard of poverty rises.” How far do you agree with this view?
Should charity donations to help eradicate poverty be made compulsory for those earning high incomes?
How can a government encourage benevolence?
Should individuals be responsible for themselves? How far can government assistance be perceived as disenfranchising individuals by removing their right to choose how they live their lives?
Make Poverty History is a commendable thought, is it a practical one?
Is it more important to focus on poverty at home or abroad?
“Inequality is bad for everyone”. Discuss.
Can poverty ever be perceived as a ‘good’ situation?
How might the impact of poverty as told by someone experiencing it be different if told from a different perspective?
The following questions have been adapted from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation:
To what extent does stigma contribute to the experience of living in poverty and what could be done to address this?
To what extent do public and political discourses (in the media, for example) shape public attitudes to people living in poverty?
To what extent are attitudes towards people in poverty affected by the language and stereotyping used by politicians of the day, and how does this vary geographically?
Do more affluent groups in society feel that they are entitled to the share of income and wealth they currently have, and if so, why?
If services for looked-after children were developed from scratch, so that their specific focus was on eliminating poverty, how would they be different, and what can be learned from other countries?
Thank you for taking the time to reach the end of this critical thinking project. I hope that it can help you in your teaching of critical thinking skills. You can download the project workflow plan here for reference. I would be really interested in your feedback: