Tuesday, July 03, 2007

On critical thinking

Do our schools teach children to think critically? I have heard some rather bizarre accounts, including one in which students were taught "kindness" as a form of critical thinking. To set the record straight, kindness is a value, not a thought process. So let me outline what true critical thought consists of, so we may discuss the matter with common definition of terms.

There are five parts to critical thought:

1. Consistency, which asks:

a) Does this hapopen every time?
b) Does everyone tell the story the same way?
c) Does this word always mean this?

2. Relevance, which asks:
a) Can we use all of the given facts?
b) Are we using the right tool?
c) Are we in the mainstream?

3. Structure and sequence, which asks:
a) Does A depend upon B?
b) Do we have to do something else first?
c) What will happen if we do this?

4. Authority, which asks:
a) Who says so? Where?
b) Why should we believe this authority?
c) Does another authority contradict this?

5. The last part is interpretation. It doesn't exactly ask questions, but seeks to integrate known facts, theories, and opinions into systems. If no existing systems seem to include them, one should attempt to construct a new system based on them. We might summarize interpretation with the question, "What does this mean?"


At 3:01 PM, Blogger Marie N. said...

I made a printed copy of this post to keep handy. Thanks!


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