Critical Thinking Skills Cartoon

Critical Thinking Cartoon

April 30, 2012 by Dr. Jon Warner in Topic Cartoons

At the most simple level, critical thinking involves us in making a carefully considered evaluation or judgment about what we hear or see. For many people, this can just mean making a quick mental decision based on the presenting evidence within a relatively short time frame (or at least within a reasonable period in the busy life that most of us seem to lead today).

This approach to thinking about what we see or hear may work effectively much of the time, especially when the decision has minimal impact on our work or on our life in general. However, the regular use of a “lightly” examined or even an “unexamined” approach may lead to a complacent habit when we hear all arguments that are put to us. And if we are not careful, we may end up with the “unexamined life” that Socrates warned us against over 2500 years ago. In these circumstances, we may easily become hostage to other people’s interpretations of what we should do or how we should live, and we may come to not much like what they have chosen and even feel negatively impacted. For this reason alone, we may want to build our own critical thinking skills to a higher level and develop better and more evolved habits using different and deeper critical thinking approaches, no matter what the argument or the decision that needs to be made.

Related Resources


Using Walt Disney Cartoons to Teach Critical Thinking in the Singapore Primary English Classrooms

Quek Yee Ser, Sharon  National Institute of Education, Singapore


This chapter discusses how critical thinking can be promoted in the Singapore primary English classrooms. The targeted students in such classrooms range from age 7 to 12 years of age. In this chapter, the use of Walt Disney animated cartoons is highlighted to infuse critical thinking in English literacy lessons. These films can provide a context for engaging and reflective discussions and encourage teachers to teach critical thinking skills to promote a thinking culture in the English primary classrooms in Singapore.

1. Introduction

Ultimately, it is not we who define thinking, it is thinking that defines us.  —Carey, Foltz, & Allan (Newsweek, 1983, February 7)

At the 2005 Work Plan Seminar for school leaders and educational practitioners, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, our Minister for Education, called for a re-examination of the fundamentals of teaching and learning. Introducing the theme, “Touching Hearts, Engaging Minds – Preparing Our Learners for Life” under the “Teach Less, Learn More” (TLLM) framework, the central foci is on examining and reflecting on the changing landscape of knowledge construction and the impact of this change on teaching and learning (Shanmugaratnam, 2005). This philosophy re-positions our students as the constructors and owners of knowledge and demands for a more creative curricular that nurtures them to become “intelligent thinkers”, who can self-regulate their own thought  processes on top of acquiring appropriate attitude and knowledge for effective learning (Halpern, 2003). As teachers, our challenge in the changing education landscape is to guide the “unschooled mind” of our children (Gardener, 1995) and help them to develop into curious, critical, analytical reflective thinkers – problem solvers who are quick to learn, flexible and able to add value to their employing organizations (Harvey et al, 1997 cited in Pithers, 2000).These dispositions or attitudes associated with critical thinking will also equip them to face the complexities and challenges of the new millennium with confidence (Lim, 1997). In Singapore, two important desired outcomes of education for the primary pupils are the abilities “to distinguish right from wrong” and to “think for and express themselves” (Ministry of Education, 1998). Since critical thinking is a learnable skill (Halpern, 2003), it is feasible to design lessons that will achieve these outcomes that characterize clear, precise, purposeful thinking. In the context of the primary English classrooms, one strategy is to introduce pop culture such as Walt Disney animated cartoons in reflective discussions. In relation to children, the term ‘pop culture’ refers to “those cultural texts, artefacts and practices which are In Tan, H.P.C. (Ed)(2007).

 Engaging Films and Music Videos in Critical Thinking

. Singapore: McGraw-Hill.

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