Critical and Creative Thinking

Critical and creative thinking have always been — and still remain — essential components of learning. What has changed is the sheer volume of information available and how it is presented.

Being able to think critically and creatively will prepare learners to approach opportunities with intelligence. Learning requires flexible and inquiring minds that not only take in information, but also question it. Students need multiple opportunities to practice and test their abilities through inquiry.

The Learning Commons gives learners opportunities to develop their own learning experiences. As a result, they will be able to build the reflective practice of learning for life.

Ideas to Consider

The Learning Commons develops learners who:
  1. Read and write for different purposes: Students read and write for pleasure, for personal discovery, and for inquiry into topics of personal and academic interest. A school library program helps students to discern the kind of text needed to achieve their purpose (e.g., a graphic novel for recreational reading, an international newspaper for current events, an online journal for a research article).

  2. Evaluate texts: Faced with the abundance of reading materials and information texts available, students need to be critical users of information. A school library program helps students develop criteria for selecting materials for personal and academic reading and for assessing the reliability and relevance of resources (e.g., distinguishing between materials found in subscription databases versus general search results).

  3. Navigate and create texts in a variety of formats: Students are exposed to text in a growing number of formats. A school library program helps students navigate and create different types of texts (e.g., online texts with hyperlinks allow students to read not only across and down, but also through to related materials).

  4. Interpret media texts: The sharing of information and opinions is shifting increasingly from text-intensive to media-intensive formats, both online and offline. The school library program helps students evaluate the value and credibility of information in this complex environment.

  5. Interpret images and graphics: In image-rich environments, students require both the ability to interpret images and the skill to critically assess how the manipulation of images affects meaning. The school library program helps students deconstruct how information is presented in many visual formats.

  6. Think deeply: As the amount of information grows exponentially, critical readers and writers need to reflect, question, predict, and connect texts to build understanding. A school library program helps students in their reading and writing to differentiate between fact and opinion, assess credibility, and to think critically about the information and ideas they encounter and communicate.

  7. Build knowledge interactively: Interactive sites facilitate online conversations and collaborative content-building. A school library program helps students to appropriately utilize social networking technologies such as blogs and wikis.


Good questions are the driving force of critical and creative thinking and therefore one of the best indicators of significant learning. Good questions are those that force students to challenge their taken-for-granted assumptions and see their own underlying biases. Oftentimes the answer to a good question is irrelevant – the question is an insight in itself. The only answer to the best questions is another good question. And so the best questions send students on rich and meaningful lifelong quests, question after question after question.

– Wesch, 2008