Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking With Armis

Strategy games rely on a player’s mental capacity to outwit his opponent, this differs from most other games that primarily rely on luck (roll of the dice, and/or pick of a card) to win.  Brain games are often distinguished from strategy games in that they focus on static information you may know, and how fast you process it.  Strategy board games are affectionately considered brain games because they are often accompanied by lots and lots of meaningful thinking.

Checkers, and warri (also called mancala) are perhaps the most basic of strategy board games, these games are played more for fun than competition so they don’t often get to enjoy the ‘strategy game’ cache.  In both games all of the individual player pieces essentially have the same power, duty, and movement ability.

The board game called “Go” is very similar to checkers and warri in the power, duty, and movement ability categories, however it is often played competitively as such it is often called a strategy board game.  

Chess is the most well known of all strategy board games.  In our opinion it rises above the previously mentioned games in that various player pieces have different powers, duties, and movement abilities, these differences add a layer of complexity to the game.  

Armis is the newest member of the strategy board game family, it is distinguished from the others in many ways, so much so that we believe Armis is the first HIGH strategy board game.  Here are some major distinguishing characteristics:

1)  an asymmetric game board,

2)  5 different environments (land, air, coastal waters, deep surface waters, and deep submerged waters)

3)  some pieces have conditional powers,

4)   identical not mirrored (your right hand in the mirror is your reflection’s left hand) setup


5)  there are over a million ways to properly setup

Armis was created in the USA for brain game enthusiasts worldwide, it is currently played online in over 130 countries.  Some say playing Armis is like playing Chess, Checkers, Risk, and Stratego all at the same time.


Critical Thinking For Children

Armis is enjoyed by thinkers of all ages; the Armis for Schools Worldwide program uses Armis to help students to develop critical thinking skills at many schools around the world. .

Marilyn Price-Mitchell, PhD, of Roots of Action, said:“critical thinking skills don’t fully develop until adolescence but the foundations for good thinking develop in younger children.”  In Logical, Critical, and Creative Thinking  By T.N. Turner Pearson Turner says: “[h]elping students learn to think logically should lead them to critical and creative thought processes...” at Armis we agree wholeheartedly, we have found that children as young as 8 years old can grasp the fundamental principles of critical thinking.   

When asked: “What is Critical Thinking?” Michael Austin, author of Standards of Critical Thinking said: “... [it] is disciplined thinking that is governed by clear intellectual standards,” he continued saying: “[it] involves identifying and analyzing arguments and truth claims, ... developing your own reasons and arguments in favor of what you believe...”  Timothy Bednarz, Ph.D. in Leaders To Leaders said: “Critical Thinking is able to translate the thinking process into clear, persuasive, truthful language, which is carefully and logically crafted …  [e]very process or method is made of essential components, and critical thinking is no different ... perception, assumptions, emotion, language, argument, fallacy, logic, and problem solving.”   Closely related to Critical Thinking is Logical Thinking, according to Christina Sponias in How to Improve Logical Thinking Skills “ … logic is a particular method of reasoning … if we want to improve our logical thinking skills, we have to improve our capacity to judge reality.”

Armis is designed to teach students how to know how to know, once that is understood it is very easy to apply that knowledge process to academic environments.  At Armis we believe:

'A' students are those who know how to know and consistently apply it,

'B' students are those who know how to know but don't regularly advance it,

'C' students often don't know how to know but benefit greatly by their genuine interest in various academic subjects,

'D' students often don't know how to know and have low interest in academic subjects,


'F' students often don't care to know how to know,

The Armis for Schools Worldwide program enables ‘C’ and ‘D’ average student to know how to know by way of our 5 step critical thinking process.  The process readies them to be ‘A’ and ‘B’ average students in a relatively short period of time.

The Academics of Critical Thinking

Every institution of learning is rooted on a logical-thinking foundation. critical thinking is used to make a good system better. According to Logical, Critical, and Creative Thinking  By T.N. Turner Pearson Allyn Bacon: “[w]hen evaluation is based on analysis, as it normally is, then critical thinking involves often complex logical reasoning. Critical thinking requires comparing a personal [institutional, or corporate] set of experiences and values to current experiences, newly encountered data, and decision- and judgment-demanding situations.”  Meagan Meehan in The importance of critical thinking says: “[h]omeschoolers have an advantage for learning critical thinking skills because they can largely make their own curriculum and incorporate critical thinking lessons into it”   

To us it really doesn’t matter if the education is institutional or home grown, the importance is acquiring the skills.  Here are our 5 steps to critical thinking during Armis game play juxtaposed with the same steps in relation to academic success:

1) Analysis and Assessment

2) Planning

3) Risk Assessment

4) Action


5) Reaction, Effect, and Experience

1) Analysis and Assessment - before you start any endeavor is important to know the rules that govern it.  For Armis you should read the rules; the equivalent for any level of school is reading the syllabus.

Then familiarize yourself with the environment, for Armis that means knowing the game board and player pieces; for school that mean knowing your teacher/professor, classmates, school building/campus, and key faculty (Principal, Dean, Advisers).

Now that you know what you are expected to do and where you are expected to perform the next step is to assess values so that you properly budget your efforts and resources.

2) Planning - In Armis there are over a million ways to properly setup , so after a setup is formed you should map and manage offensive and defensive strategies; for school you do the same with respect to an offensive strategy, the defensive strategy is less academic and more social. However, if it can impact your academic performance in a meaningful way it must be factored into your planning.

3) Risk Assessment - this is where you say "What if?", not just "What if he does?", but also "What if she doesn't?" for the game it is weighing probabilities that a player will do, or not do, certain actions; for school it has more to do with what can happen if you don't do as expected or planned. Not only on the macro level: 'what if I don't graduate', but also on the micro level: 'what if I oversleep, barely eat, or fail to exercise', 'what if I skip a class, or a homework assignment?'.

4) Action - for Armis this is where you make your move; for school this is where you: participate in class, hand in homework, take a test, and/or submit a paper.


5)  Reaction, Effect, and Experience - for Armis it is as much how your opponent’s reacts (or lack of reaction) as much as what effect that specific move has on the rest of the game. For school it is about how the instructor and class respond to your class participation, the teacher's feedback on a homework assignment or term paper, your professor’s feedback on a paper, as well as your academic ranking.  

Everything counts, as such the information that make up 1 - 5 including your opponent’s move, we consider to be a single whole experience.  Each move you make should be made with the intelligence of your experience. Likewise, everything you do, or don’t do, during your time in school impacts your academic success.

Armis For Schools Worldwide Program

When a professional basketball player is on the court one thing he is unlikely to consciously think about is his dribbling, this is because by the time one becomes a professional basketball player his subconscious mind has taken over the roll of dribbling while his conscious mind manages all other duties.  

The subconscious mind is used to do all sorts of physical functions from riding a bike, to driving a stickshift car, right down to walking, Certified Armis Instructors are using Armis to teach students how to think critically on a subconscious level, when that is accomplished the process of critical thinking becomes as natural to us as dribbling is to professional basketball players.  The Armis For Schools Worldwide program makes games, professional training, and competition prizes available to school anywhere in the world FREE -- schools pay absolutely nothing.  

In the article  Primo Is An Arduino Robot That Teaches Kids Programming Logic Through Play Natasha Lomas said: “... there is serious appetite for ... games that are … educational” she continued saying “With that kind of Kickstarter community response, it’s pretty likely we’re set to see a wave of educational toys”    We agree, in fact the Armis For Schools Worldwide program is funded by crowdfunding like kickstarter, indiegogo, and the like.


More To Think About

According to Logical thinking and bias blind spots  “...when people face an uncertain situation, they don’t carefully evaluate the information or look up relevant statistics. Instead, their decisions depend on a long list of mental shortcuts, which often lead them to make foolish decisions. These shortcuts aren’t a faster way of doing the calculation; they’re a way of skipping it altogether.” And mentioned in Distorted Logic Bubbles was: “[i]mplicitly it is assumed that the brain act rationally on the basis of the logic within the bounded perception space.”  This is is why “[i]t is our ultimate goal as teachers and educators to bring up students who are critical thinkers and problem solvers.” (iPad Apps To Enhance Critical Thinking Teachers Should Not Miss by Med Kharbach)

KASIA MIKOLUK the author of Logical Thinking: Are You Sure That’s Reasonable? said: “Logical thinking is crucial for practically every aspect of business operation”  

it certainly is for academic life as well.