IN THIS FAST PACED SOCIETY, we don't often stop to think about the importance of critical thinking. But when we do, it is easy to see that it is imperative for success in modern society. It is a part of formal education and of the lifelong learning process that is demanded in an increasingly complex world. An essential outcome of a literate society is the ability to intake information, from within or outside the range of individual experiences, and actively process, conceptualize, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information to guide belief and action.

Information by way of written and spoken language is bombarding the 21st century learner-in an abundance not ever experienced by our species. With limited literacy proficiency, citizens are unable to access knowledge, and thus unable to reach deeper understanding of information that might allow for more informed decisions about career, governance, health, finances, family, safety, and more.

Students are taught critical thinking skills in an array of subjects after they have become reading literate, which is before the end of third grade. Skills are taught with combinations of questions at varying levels of critical thought. This provides students a stronger grasp of the connections among the information, its presentation, and its meaning. The dual ability to deconstruct and reconstruct an idea for greater understanding is vital to success in any career path, and the sooner students master this skill, the more prepared they will be to face future challenges. If students are not fully reading literate, thinking skills cannot be honed with questions and tasks related to comprehending and analyzing material, and their opportunities for workforce success will be limited.