Vladimira Chalyova

Critical Thinking – Vladimira

Vladimira ChalyovaMy Inner Velvet Revolution

by Vladimira Chalyova

Any growth requires a temporary loss of security– Madeline Hunter

As scary as it may sound, critical thinking is neither a threat to a teacher nor another skill to learn for a student. Yet just like happiness, it seems to be difficult to understand, grasp or achieve. My comparison to happiness is not accidental, though. Both critical thinking and happiness have a couple of things in common and I believe that the same kind of journey leads towards them.

  • It is something we long for but don’t necessarily know how to get there.
  • The farther we get, the more complex it becomes.
  • It follows the inside – out principle

(we won’t see it out there unless we find it inside ourselves)

  • It enriches the life of an individual as well as the community.

As teachers we can’t teach critical thinking. However, we can facilitate and equip our students with skills and help them develop abilities so that they do the exploration for themselves.

For me, the exploration into the realm of my own critical thinking was almost like a revolution. Not an aggressive or turbulent one. Quite the opposite! I come from a country, Slovakia, which is famous for its peaceful separation – the Velvet Revolution.  I like to think the similar process happened inside me as well.

As a child I almost always followed the rules, mostly because they were not just given to me as an order, but explained to me as something that was there for all to create an environment where everyone can learn the importance of each other – the meaningful and relevant rules, for a nourishing and safe environment, of course. At the same time I was given enough time to explore my interests and enough freedom to change them as I grew up. I was a member of all kinds of clubs, attended various courses or activities until I, myself, found out what filled me most with the sense of curiosity and drive.

It is not that much about the things we are good at or we like that help us develop our critical thinking. Rather, it is what we find challenging, what pushes us forward to break barriers inside!

This way I was building my own understanding of things and reality. I was building my own point of view and more importantly, the way to explain it to others. I found out I was well able to form my own “state” within the community of others, accepting others and at the same time not giving up on what I believed in.

Please, don’t forget this important element of acceptance along your journey!

I think that forgetting it or leaving it behind is why we have started relating critical thinking to a threat or even something negative such as criticism. Acceptance should be always mutual! You do your part by being a model for others; don’t force them.

I accept that you face challenges on your way and you accept that mine are most likely to be different than yours!

All of us face them as we move forward, maybe in a different direction or pace, but we all do!

And have I reached the destination of my journey – exploration?

Does it all end once we become independent?

Does happiness end once you find the source? Of course not!

It is never too late or too early to embark and in a quiet moment reach deep and find what challenge you need to overcome this time to move forward. The journey itself, every step forward towards the new understanding of yourself and the world is a reward. Let your students see that you, too, are on the way and be an inspiration where it may lead them.

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Vladimira Chalyova

Vladimira Chalyova teaches English as a foreign language at State Language School in Slovakia. She teaches general and business English to adults and teenagers. She is interested in student-centered approaches, developing learners' autonomy and believes that a teacher shouldn't be a slave of course books and that inspiration, motivation, purpose and meaning are essential in learning. She brings colours, crayons and surpr@ise (surprise + praise) to her classroom and just recently also on the canvas.

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