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The Power of Thinking Slow

“Slowing down is sometimes the best way to speed up.” 

Mike Vance

Critical thinking skills have become a crucial aspect of preparing students for the challenges of the 21st century. This article explores the significance of slowing down the thinking process and offers practical strategies to engage students and reshape their cognitive approach.


Understand the Brain's Natural Tendencies:

The brain consumes 20% of the body's daily energy. It is inherently designed to be efficient and seek shortcuts, to rely on patterns and defaults to automatic thinking. This brings attention to the necessity of investing time in thoughtful reflection for genuine critical thinking and effective problem-solving. By understanding the brain's natural inclination to preserve energy through automatic thinking, educators can guide students toward intentional, deeper thinking. Research tells us that the average waiting time for a student to respond to a question is 0.7 seconds. If this is extended, even by a few seconds, more students can respond and the answers are more complex. Only a few students are blessed with instant recall and our low wait time favours them above other students who may have a deeper grasp of ideas. If, even beyond increasing waiting time, we offer students diverse ways to respond including harnessing the creative arts, we will be surprised at the creativity, thoughtfulness and depth of knowledge students reveal.


Respect Diverse Expressions of Thought:

When educators understand that each child thinks uniquely, they are encouraged to provide various avenues for students to express their thoughts. Whether through writing, drawing, building models, or engaging in play, diverse expressions should be embraced as valuable contributions to the thinking process.


Collaborative Thinking Time:

Promoting collaborative thinking is a key strategy. Allowing students the time and space to consider, reflect, and discuss challenges with their peers creates an inclusive classroom environment. Emphasising the value of diverse opinions and solutions contributes to a collaborative mindset.


Think, Pair, Share Method:

Introduce the "think, pair, share" method, encouraging students to first reflect independently, then collaborate with a peer, and finally share their thoughts with the entire class. This approach promotes both independent and collaborative thinking, enriching the quality of ideas.


Benefits of Slow Thinking:

Research has shown that "slow thinking" has profound benefits. Extending the average response time from 0.7 seconds to even three seconds will respect diverse student knowledge, enhance collaboration and result in more logic-driven answers. Using a design process can greatly enhance students' engagement, products and understanding. Rather that teach content directly, educators can offer projects that use and deploy the information and include students in the planning and implementation of projects.

The steps in design include most of these twelve steps:

  1. Define the Problem or Opportunity

  2. Research and Gather Information

  3. Brainstorm and Generate Ideas

  4. Concept Development

  5. Sketching and Prototyping

  6. Feedback and Iteration

  7. Finalise Design

  8. Testing and Evaluation

  9. Implementation and Production

  10. Launch or Deployment

  11. Post-Launch Evaluation

  12. Documentation

Educators play a pivotal role in reshaping thinking by implementing these strategies in the classroom. By creating an environment that nurtures critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, teachers prepare students for the complexities of the modern world. The journey towards slow thinking requires patience, but the rewards are transformative for both educators and students.

Slow down, invest time in thoughtful exploration, and witness the impact on cognitive development.

For more information about Lili-Ann Kriegler

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