The Optimalist
The Optimalist Podcast
Podcast Ep 40: Nurturing Critical and Creative Thinking in Education w/ Erik Francis

Podcast Ep 40: Nurturing Critical and Creative Thinking in Education w/ Erik Francis

In this week’s episode, Erik Francis joins us to explore the pivotal role of critical and creative thinking in modern education. Embracing technology, notably AI, is a key theme, urging educators to leverage tools like ChatGPT to foster inquiry-based learning. Despite systemic challenges within traditional schooling, Erik, a seasoned advocate for innovative education, emphasizes the importance of resilience and motivation in navigating career paths.

Our discussion highlighted the transformative potential of AI in generating thought-provoking questions, alongside the need for customized instruction tailored to diverse student needs. We underscored the synergy between technological advancement and human ingenuity, while lamenting the decline of deep, long-form engagement amidst social media's superficial allure.

Join us as we unravel the intricacies of education's future, rooted in the belief that nurturing critical and creative thinking is essential for empowering learners in an ever-evolving world.

Key reflection

How might you integrate technology, such as AI tools, to cultivate a culture of inquiry-based learning and foster critical and creative thinking in your school? 


(0:01:41) Embracing AI in Education

(0:08:32) Finding a Different Path in Education

(0:10:36) Motivation and Management in the Face of Challenges

(0:14:07) Teaching and Testing with Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels

(0:16:12) Assessing student progress towards proficiency and overcoming obstacles

(0:17:57) Justifying and verifying with evidence to reach DOK-3

(0:23:50) The Power of Technology as an Instructional Tool

(0:26:05) Embracing Technology for Productive Learning

(0:30:44) The Power of Language in Pixar Cartoons

(0:33:05) Finding Purpose in Simon Sinek's Start With Why


Links Mentioned:

Maverik Education

Erik on Twitter  

DOK Book 

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The Optimalist Podcast is brought to you by Swivl. At Swivl, we understand that the biggest challenge in education is the rate of change. Policy revisions, technological advancements (accelerated by AI), evolving job markets, and ongoing research constantly identifying new best practices are only some of the factors affecting the rate of change in education. To learn how Swivl can help you be more reflective, engaged, and adaptable - including Mirror, our newest tool for complete transformation - visit You can also follow us on Twitter. 

We are SO EXCITED to introduce Mirror by Swivl - a new tool made to recognize the potential of reflection in classrooms. We built Mirror to thrive with AI, reflect easier, and partner with teachers. I think Mirror is where you and your students are going to meet your potential self.

Click here to sign up to try Mirror for FREE as part of our unique demo program starting right now.

  • Follow Swivl on Twitter at @Swivl

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  • Music: “Goodnight, Shapeshifter” by MusicForNothing, used under Creative Commons BY-ND 3.0.

Audio Editing & Production: Tim Belmont (@tbelmontedu)