Friday, March 13, 2015

The Critical Thinking Co. ~ World History Detectives Book 1

I had the privilege of reviewing the World History Detective Book 1 for The Critical Thinking Co.. The World History Detective Book 1 is geared for grades 6-12+.

Mission Statement
The Critical Thinking committed to developing students' critical thinking skills for better grades, higher test scores, and success in life. We do not teach through drill and memorization or teach to the tests - we empower the mind!

What exactly is Critical Thinking?
Critical Thinking is the process of disciplining one to think clearly, rationally, with an open-mind, and to be informed by evidence through examining, analyzing, questioning and challenging situations, issues, and information. Critical Thinking sets out to find truth from partial truth or thinking based on false premises or assumptions. Thinking critically requires one to consider the whole context of a problem, issue or situation without assuming what is or isn't there.

World History Detective Book 1
The workbook covers Prehistory, Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Civilizations, and Early American Civilizations for a total of 78 lessons. The lessons include maps, graphs, and timelines. Students learn to develop important critical thinking skills while learning history. For each lesson, the student reads and analyzes the written material. After doing so, they apply critical thinking to answer multiple choice questions and complete short essay questions. The student is required to support answers through evidence learned from each lesson.

The lessons are broken down into one page readings followed by the questions and short essay questions. The answer key is included in the back of the book. Before giving my son the book I removed the answer key section to eliminate the temptation to cheat. The pages in the book are perforated for easy removal.

How I used it
I decided to have my 8th grader use this curriculum. World History Detectives challenged my child's thinking and required him think outside of the box. Most curriculums are read and regurgitated, that is not so with this curriculum which requires one to use deduction, reasoning, and critical thinking in order to arrive at answers. My son was quite resistant in the beginning because in his words, "It makes me think too hard." He is so used to finding direct answers to questions in a reading. The multiple choice answers are uniquely worded from the lesson material, forcing the student to think about what they have read in order to accurately answer the questions.

My son was quick to point out that the book was written from a secular perspective. Evolution and an old age of the earth are presented as factual, though the book does point out that these views are debatable. As Christian parents, we have taught history based on creation rather than evolution. This instigated a great discussion about the necessity of learning all perspectives, in order to better enable our children to defend history through God's creation. I was pleased to see that the book included how religious developments have impacted culture and the events of history.

My son has an insatiable love of history. He enjoyed working through the lessons and gaining historical knowledge, as well as developing his critical thinking skills. As he progressed though the book, my son found it much easier to complete the lessons. Obviously, his critical thinking skills were being sharpened. As both a parent and a teacher, I would call that a SCORE!!! Being 13 years old, I doubt that he would actually admit it, but I think that he enjoyed World History Detective. 

Final Thoughts
Overall, I was quite pleased with this curriculum. Critical Thinking is an important tool and The Critical Thinking Co. does an amazing job at preparing the student to be able to think critically. I will definitely continue to use The Critical Thinking Co. in the future. I would also highly recommend this curriculum to others.

“If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless.” 
 Michael Baker, President of The Critical Thinking Co.

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