Blog Archives

How to Foster Critical and Creative Thinking

gtchat Critical and Creative Thinking 06122015


Critical thinking is the ability to recognize and challenge assumptions, and to understand context in a given situation. Creative thinking involves developing unique and useful ideas. This week at #gtchat, we discussed how to foster both critical and creative thinking.

Andrea of explained that “critical thinking is thinking with an emphasis on understanding and questioning rather than simply accepting standard procedures.” Critical thinkers can ask relevant questions and research alternatives. Critical thinking includes compare/contrast; sequencing; analysis and assessment of ideas. Mary St. George of New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education and Gifted Online said, “Critical thinking looks beyond what ideas are to whether they are relevant, accurate and wise.”

Our thoughts then turned to creative thinking. Audrey Fine, GT specialist and past-president of Alabama Association for Gifted Children, said, “Initially, brainstorming comes to mind, but just for a start.” Angie French, a GT specialist in Texas, told us, “Creative thinking is fun and exhilarating when it’s at its best!” and Mona Chicks added, “Creative thinking is putting together ideas that didn’t belong together before, but they do now.” Creative thinkers have the ability to question their own thinking; to engage in divergent fields of study. Creative thinking can often be characterized as ‘futuristic’ thinking.

What does a 21st century skills framework look like? This framework sees students as problem solvers. Corin Goodwin, Executive Director of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, characterized it as “creative and entrepreneurial; able to follow one’s own path; find resources one needs. It is very networked in many ways.” In this century, we must promote critical and creative thinking to solve the global challenges we all face.

With all the emphasis on STEM & seeming dedication to achievement, why do gifted kids drop out of school? Too often gifted students grow weary of what they see as ‘playing the game’; grades become irrelevant to personal goals. “Not all kids relate to STEM. Nor are all built for achievement,” explained Lisa Lauffer of Artisan of Creative Miracles. Krissy Venosdale of Venspired said, “Achieving is unfulfilling. Especially when you achieve by jumping through hoops. Creating and exploring? That’s engaging!” Jo Freitag of Gifted Resources told us, “Often gifted kids style of thinking and learning is very different from classmates – it may appear to be daydreaming and off topic.”

Next, we explored the benefits of becoming mentally fit. Mental fitness introduces the purpose of thinking; the means to accomplishing goals. Andrea of said, “mental fitness is just like physical fitness in that a student is prepared to tackle whatever challenges they face.” A mentally fit mind is trained to focus and is an engaged mind.

Our final question was ‘How do we begin to create engagement for gifted students?’ Gifted students rarely need relentless repetitions; eliminate ‘kill and drill’. Curriculum design must consider its ‘meaningfulness’ to the student; be responsive to individual students. Just say ‘no’ to easy answers and require accuracy in outcomes; involve struggle and embrace learning from failure. And these suggestions from out participants:

  • Respectfully complex work is inherently engaging for many gifted children. ~ Mary St. George
  • Appropriate level of challenge, student choice around material and pace, and enrichment ~
  • Allow gifted kids to follow their passions and spend more time learning how to learning with their unique styles. ~ Barry Gelston
  • Provide opportunities for them to use their interests as a base for learning. ~ Carol Bainbridge
  • Make learning relevant with students learning what they need to know and then able to demonstrate it to an authentic audience. ~ Tony Rudd

A full transcript can be found at Storify.


Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our new Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media    Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Illinois Association for Gifted Children Journal 2015 (pdf) Joan Smutny, editor

Engaging & Challenging Curriculum: Supporting Advanced & Gifted Learners (Amazon)

Fostering Critical & Creative Thinking in the K12 Classroom: Overview (pdf)

AUS: Critical & Creative Thinking across the Curriculum

Nurturing Critical & Creative Thinking Skills (Slideshare)

Strategies to Promote Critical Thinking in the Elementary Classroom

Critical & Creative Thinking

Teaching Creative Thinking with Awareness & Discovery Questions

Helping Students Transition to Critical & Creative Thinking (pdf)

Making Thinking Visible: Building Understanding through Critical & Creative Thinking

Teaching Critical Thinking: An Evidence-based Guide

Learning to Learn Creative Thinking & Critical Thinking DCU – Ireland (pdf)

Cybraryman’s Critical Thinking Page

Sprites Site Doggy Classroom Dynamics Compares Critical vs Creative Thinking Styles

Why Technology Alone Won’t Fix Schools


Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

%d bloggers like this: