Click HERE to return to Critical Thinking resources. It also involves the structured examination of sources of information. INTRODUCTION A primary task of any educational institution is to develop the students who go there. For the sake of convenience, we critical thinking is important for evaluating just use “critical thinking .
Including critical thinking in an educational curriculum is not something peculiar to the Army Management Staff College. Critical thinking is nominally included in many elementary, secondary, and college curricula. Textbooks are also including it in subjects from elementary school mathematics to high school history. Unfortunately, for all the apparent focus on critical thinking, it is often either not well understood, or it is not presented in a way that encourages people to use it.
An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking. It may not be a coincidence that the rise of interest in independent critical thinking coincides with the chaos that was unleashed by aggressive, totalitarian governments. Today, a number of definitions of thinking and of critical thinking in particular exist in academia. That multiple definitions exist is not unusual when one considers the field of inquiry. One of the early difficulties we found in trying to work with the concepts involved in critical thinking at AMSC, was that it is very difficult to present multiple definitions to people who are encountering the deliberate examination of their thinking for the first time.
We also developed a series of shorthand labels such as “thinking about thinking” and “quality control of the mind. The shorthand for critical thinking that has become most popular, probably because of an exercise we do, is “thinking outside of the box. We also included a number of different ways of defining and explaining what critical thinking was and describing the attributes of critical thinking. As our experience grew, we discovered, that it was difficult for students to work through a variety of ways of modeling thinking. The following is one of Dr. The first answer to this question is that yes, we all think, but do we do it well and are we able to evaluate the quality of our thinking?
In a May 1996 presentation at AMSC, Dr. Paul responded to this question with the statement that reflects our philosophy: “We are always thinking, the question is, are we in charge of our thinking, or is our thinking in charge of us? There are also more complex answers to the question of why we need to teach critical thinking. The old paradigms that we lived in have shifted or been demolished, and responses that worked for us during the period of “fearsome stability” with the Former Soviet Union may no longer be applicable. It may be asking too much of people who have been nurtured and rewarded in an environment where, as one soldier turned civil servant put it, “the lines are your friends . To suddenly change their thinking habits, therefore, we have to provide students an environment where thinking skills can be learned, and then practiced in realistic situations that are otherwise safe and supportive.
At first, we taught critical thinking as a method of direct instruction, “teaching thinking,” in one two hour lecture. It was received with limited enthusiasm because the students had trouble understanding the significance of the concept and we had limited opportunities for modeling it. When we re-designed the curriculum in 1991, we started “teaching for thinking. Our overall philosophy has evolved to the point that we believe that people have to understand what thinking is and that they are responsible for their own thinking.
In order to develop thinking you have to teach about thinking, teach for thinking, and infuse thinking skills into the content. Critical thinking must then be modeled and facilitated throughout the educational process. I would like to note here that our approach to critical thinking, particularly infusing it, requires institutional courage and puts great demands on the faculty. Developing material with critical thinking infused, presenting it, and modeling and fostering thinking during student interactions, such as seminar facilitation and counseling, require much more effort than typical training or knowledge level education.
As mentioned above, we use Dr. Two of the major pieces we use are the Elements of Reasoning, and his explanation of the Universal Intellectual Standards. While an issue can be examined starting at any point along the wheel, we normally start at the top with the purpose of the thinking. The following are brief definitions of each of the categories in the elements of reasoning, and they are reproduced from workshop material presented by Dr. Whenever we reason, we reason to some end, to achieve some objective, to satisfy some desire, or fulfill some need. Question at Issue or Problem to be Solved. Whenever we attempt to reason something out, there is at least one question at issue, at least one problem to be solved.
Whenever we reason, there is some “stuff,” some phenomena about which we are reasoning. All reasoning uses some ideas or concepts and not others. These concepts can include the theories, principles, axioms and rules implicit in our reasoning. Any “defect” in the concepts or ideas of the reasoning is a possible source of problems in student reasoning. All reasoning must begin somewhere, must take some things for granted. Any “defect” in the assumptions or presuppositions with which the reasoning begins is a possible source of problems in student reasoning. Assessing skills of reasoning involves assessing their ability to recognize and articulate their assumptions, again according to the relevant standards.