Learning how to think: Lewis Co. schools emphasize critical thinking

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WESTON, W.Va. (WDTV)- In school you learn math, you learn science, you learn English... But what about a skill that can be applied to all subjects in and outside of the classroom? Teaching critical thinking is getting more attention in Lewis County schools this year and teachers say it's an important skill to have long after graduation. 5 News went to Peterson Central Elementary School which had a pilot program for it that's turned into a county-wide effort.

For Lynn Posey, her third grade classroom isn't applying to jobs yet... But she wants to help mold creative thinkers who can organize their thoughts in a way that may be applied to any subject in school and any situation in life, like in a job interview.

"What they want to hear is, 'Solve a problem,'" Posey says of employers in a job interview. "That's not giving the answer "D" or 'four times four is 16.' They wanna know how they can think outside the box."

Posey says an effective way of learning to get to that point is when learning is 'hands on.' She remembers watching her teacher do a science experiment in school, but not actually taking part in it. However in Posey's classroom, she wants her students to get their hands dirty and their brains flexing.

"Now we really want them to get into it, get into the nitty gritty of it," she said. "And when they're thinking and when they're actually doing it then they're a part of it and they remember it so much more and they can apply it to other situations."

That's where the new tool comes in. It's called a thinking map. It's a way of graphically organizing your ideas with different shapes, brain storming, and comparing and contrasting them. School officials want to expand it into a writing program and want it to be used for projects like research papers.

"The way you think and the way you wanna organize your thoughts or express them can be at any place, anywhere, and it helps the children when they want to succeed," said Assistant Principal Mary Scott. "Because as the students are entering into the world today they've got to know throughout their jobs and throughout any occupation 'What is important that I do first,' 'What do I do next,' 'How do I proceed from one step to the next.'"

To learn about the different types of thinking maps Lewis County schools are rolling out, check out more of Posey's interview in the video above.