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Before viewing our online resources, please seriously consider supporting our work with a financial contribution. We hope you will help us continue to advance fairminded critical societies across the world. Machine translated pages not guaranteed for accuracy. Click Here for our professional translations. 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 for the future, national standards, and assessment strategies.
Question: Critical thinking is essential to effective learning and productive living. Would you share your definition of critical thinking? Paul: 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: critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.
To think well is to impose discipline and restraint on our thinking-by means of intellectual standards — in order to raise our thinking to a level of “perfection” or quality that is not natural or likely in undisciplined, spontaneous thought. The dimension of critical thinking least understood is that of “intellectual standards. Question: Could you give me an example? Paul: 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. Often, teachers are unclear about this basic difference.