Simplistic, lazy, rote thinking cannot address the complexities we face.
Translate this page from English Print Page Change Text Size: T T T Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is essential to effective learning and productive living. Would you share your definition of critical thinking? First, since critical thinking can be defined in a number of different ways consistent with each other, we should not put a lot of weight on any one definition.
Definitions are at best scaffolding for the mind. With this qualification in mind, here is a bit of scaffolding: Two things are crucial: To put it briefly, it is self-improvement in thinking through standards that assess thinking.
Could you give me an example? Certainly, one of the most important distinctions that teachers need to routinely make, and which takes disciplined thinking to make, is that between reasoning and subjective reaction. If we are trying to foster quality thinking, we don't want students simply to assert things; we want them to try to reason things out on the basis of evidence and good reasons.
Often, teachers are unclear about this basic difference. Many teachers are apt to take student writing or speech which is fluent and witty or glib and amusing as good thinking. They are often unclear about the constituents of good reasoning. Hence, even though a student may just be asserting things, not reasoning things out at all, if she is doing so with vivacity and flamboyance, teachers are apt to take this to be equivalent to good reasoning.
This was made clear in a recent California state-wide writing assessment in which teachers and testers applauded a student essay, which they said illustrated "exceptional achievement" in reasoned evaluation, an essay that contained no reasoning at all, that was nothing more than one subjective reaction after another.
See "Why Students-and Teachers-Don't Reason Well" The assessing teachers and testers did not notice that the student failed to respond to the directions, did not support his judgment with reasons and evidence, did not consider possible criteria on which to base his judgment, did not analyze the subject in the light of the criteria, and did not select evidence that clearly supported his judgment.
The result was, by the way, that a flagrantly mis-graded student essay was showcased nationally in ASCD's Developing Mindssystematically misleading theor so teachers who read the publication. Could this possibly be a rare mistake, not representative of teacher knowledge?
I don't think so. Let me suggest a way in which you could begin to test my contention. If you are familiar with any thinking skills programs, ask someone knowledgeable about it the "Where's the beef?
Namely, "What intellectual standards does the program articulate and teach? And then when you explain what you mean, I think you will find that the person is not able to articulate any such standards.
Thinking skills programs without intellectual standards are tailor-made for mis-instruction. For example, one of the major programs asks teachers to encourage students to make inferences and use analogies, but is silent about how to teach students to assess the inferences they make and the strengths and weaknesses of the analogies they use.
This misses the point. The idea is not to help students to make more inferences but to make sound ones, not to help students to come up with more analogies but with more useful and insightful ones. What is the solution to this problem?
How, as a practical matter, can we solve it? Well, not with more gimmicks or quick fixes. Not with more fluff for teachers.
Only with quality long-term staff development that helps the teachers, over an extended period of time, over years not months, to work on their own thinking and come to terms with what intellectual standards are, why they are essential, and how to teach for them.
The State Department in Hawaii has just such a long-term, quality, critical thinking program see " mentor program ". So that's one model your readers might look at.
In addition, the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction is focused precisely on the articulation of standards for thinking.Orientation Lecture Series LEARNING TO LEARN: Developing critical thinking skills Learning Centre 3 Strategies for reading critically Ask Questions about For Example.
What is my Comfort Zone? This is the place you have always lived. These are the thoughts you are used to thinking, the way you are used to behaving, the assumptions that are familiar to you. We'd like to share this critical thinking skills cheatsheet for you to use with your students.
Get them asking questions on any topic! “Curriculum that questions the purpose of knowledge.” by Terry Heick In our recent post, Education’s Curious Fascination With Uniformity, reader James Foss left a useful comment that had within it an interesting concept–the “purpose of knowledge.”.
In this interview for Think magazine (April ’’92), Richard Paul provides a quick overview of critical thinking and the issues surrounding it: defining it, common mistakes in assessing it, its relation to communication skills, self-esteem, collaborative learning, motivation, curiosity, job skills.
The Value of Critical Thinking. Let us start with you first. Why would it be of value to you to have the cognitive skills of interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference, explanation, and self- regulation?