Looking for the Question: A Critical Thinking Goal for a Second Grade Teacher

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson


Advocates for critical thinking have steadfastly maintained that skills for understanding how problems are solved are more important than memorizing facts. Such problems would be more representative of real life than the usual contrived problems created to practice an academic skill. Piaget is said to have asked how his findings could accelerate learning. In fact, he had been asked this so often, he called it the "Americana question" (Piaget in Pulaski, 1980, p. 202). His response was that educators have not effectively addressed three fundamental questions; What is the aim of teaching? What should we teach? and How should we teach? These basic questions remain unanswered today and are a continuing challenge to teachers. This thesis focuses on second grade students and advocates that traditional academic practice be more developmentally appropriate. The author addresses these issues daily in her classroom by providing many opportunities for the students to see the usefulness of acquiring the basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics. Furthermore, these skills become the tools useful for reaching the primary goal of the author, which is to develop the traits of personal responsibility, social responsibility, self-dependency, leadership, organization, and concern for the environment. Activities for practicing the skills mentioned above are designed to duplicate real-life situations. Many opportunities for critical thinking as well as creative thinking are included as a vital part of each day. The classroom itself is filled with ingredients which stimulate the natural curiosity of children. By working a time into the daily schedule that allows students to select what they want to do from a wide number of choices, such as arts, blocks, carpentry, cooking, crafts, games, keyboarding, planting science, theme work, tutoring, and writing, they begin to generate their own ideas. "Looking for the Question" refers to the anticipation of requests posed, by children whose curiosity has been stimulated by their surroundings. The ultimate goal of teaching for critical thinking has been fulfilled, as a teacher and students alike search for answers amidst a climate of self-growth and shared responsibilities.


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