Critical Thinking Discussion Questions

Critical Thinking Discussion Questions-72
The "making" and the "testing of that making" are intimately interconnected.

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Paul: Some communication is surface communication, trivial communication--surface and trivial communication don't really require education.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. 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. The State Department in Hawaii has just such a long-term, quality, critical thinking program (see "mentor program"). In addition, the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction is focused precisely on the articulation of standards for thinking.I am hopeful that eventually, through efforts such as these, we can move from the superficial to the substantial in fostering quality student thinking.Two things are crucial: 1) critical thinking is not just thinking, but thinking which entails self-improvement 2) this improvement comes from skill in using standards by which one appropriately assesses thinking.To put it briefly, it is self-improvement (in thinking) through standards (that assess thinking).All thinking, in short, is a creation of the mind's work, and when it is disciplined so as to be well-integrated into our experience, it is a new creation precisely because of the inevitable novelty of that integration.And when it helps us to solve problems that we could not solve before, it is surely properly called "creative".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 for the future, national standards, and assessment strategies.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. 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.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. 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.


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