Teaching Critical Thinking Through Art History In High School

They may have never seen anything like what you’re showing them.

They may be looking at a real piece of pottery for the first time ever. Using the questions from the handout below, guide the students through an organic discussion led by their ideas and reactions.

The beauty of this activity is that just by participating, students are developing critical thinking skills.

The NEA has a helpful document available for download called “An Educator’s Guide to the ‘Four Cs’” which details how part of critical thinking is making judgments and decisions.

Specifically, students should develop skills to “Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims, and beliefs,” and, “Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis,” and finally, “Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions.” Over time, providing your students with opportunities like playing Art Detectives will do just that!

For even more insight into helping students analyze art, check out the following articles and lesson plan.

However, sometimes it’s difficult to think about presenting the concept to very young students.

The good news is that with a little imagination, anything is possible.

Select and use evidence/information effectively in conducting a comprehensive analysis of the issue/problem 3.

Analyze context, assumptions and perspectives when presenting a position on an issue/problem 4.


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