Blog Post: Theme of the 12th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking (Parts 1-3 of 5)

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Nov 16, 2021 • 14d ago
Theme of the 12th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking (Parts 1-3 of 5)

{"ops":[{"insert":"The following article appeared in the program for the 12"},{"attributes":{"script":"super"},"insert":"th"},{"insert":" Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking (1992) and discussed the theme of the event. It contained five sections:\n\n1. Introduction"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"2. Three Essential Insights"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"3. Knowledge Is Embedded in Thinking"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"4. The Ability to Reason: A Defining Feature of Humans"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"5. Teaching and Assessing the Dimensions of Critical Thinking"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nThe first three of these appear below.\n\n \nEach year a conference theme is selected to give participants a central concept that provides a thread of continuity between the various presentations. This year the focus is on the cultivation of reasoning minds and the important interrelated problems of teaching for reasoning, internalizing standards appropriate to it, and testing and assessing it. Only a mind which reasons as it learns can learn rationally and deeply, and only some modes of teaching, testing, and assessment are appropriate to reason's development."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"Integral to all three – its teaching, testing, and assessment – are intellectual criteria and standards, for the evaluation of reasoning requires intellectual criteria, mindfully applied. Unfortunately, most teachers, as well as most professors, have received an education deficient in intellectual criteria and standards. And since we teach as we were taught, classes today typically proceed with little or no reference to intellectual standards. Students don't learn through them and are not tested by them. They do not use reasoning as a tool of learning; they do not read or write with the structure of reasoning in mind; and they do not speak or listen as if what they were saying or hearing had an intellectual organization or foundation."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"They write and speak, yes, but not as though the parts of what they utter should be informed by the general character of the whole of their utterance, nor even that that whole should have a general (and unifying) character which all of its parts reflect. They form no intellectual values, make no intellectual commitments, develop no intellectual canons or principles which stand as authorities in their minds. And, what is more, they are at peace in this state of intellectual malaise, as if there were no need for such values, no serious void created by the lack of such commitments, and no deep and abiding pathology signaled by the absence of such canons and principles."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"size":"large","bold":true},"insert":"Three Essential Insights"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"Educators today lack three fundamental insights, that: 1) thought and knowledge of content must be developed together, 2) both presuppose the utilization of intellectual standards, and 3) we cannot internalize intellectual standards without disciplining our minds in the process. Let us briefly consider the interrelation of these insights."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"There is no such thing as \"content-less\" thinking or content that can be mastered without thought. Hence, there is no need to choose between an emphasis on content and an emphasis on thinking. Furthermore, students can master content only through disciplined thinking. Thinking, in turn, can be disciplined only insofar as the mind is guided in its judgments by defensible intellectual standards. To think well, we must reason well. To reason well, we must strive to be reasonable in our judgments. To strive for reasonability in our judgments, we must make a commitment to clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, consistency, logicalness, depth, breadth, completeness, significance, adequacy, and fairness of thought, and hence we must learn how to detect unclarity, imprecision, vagueness, inaccuracy, irrelevance, inconsistency, illogicalness, superficiality, narrowness, incompleteness, triviality, inadequacy, bias or one-sidedness of thought. To highlight these insights let us examine the implications that follow from the fact that all knowledge is embedded in thinking."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"size":"large"},"insert":"Knowledge Is Embedded in Thinking"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"We often talk of knowledge as if it could be divorced from thinking, as if it could be gathered up by one person and given to another in the form of a collection of sentences to remember. When we talk in this way, we forget that knowledge by its very nature depends on thought. Knowledge is produced by thought, analyzed by thought, comprehended by thought, organized, evaluated, maintained, and transformed by thought. Knowledge exists, properly speaking, only in minds that have comprehended and justified it through thought. And when we say thought we mean critical thought. Knowledge is not to be confused with belief nor with the mere symbolic representation of belief. Humans are quite capable of believing things that are false or believing things to be true without knowing them to be so. A book contains knowledge only in a derivative sense, only because minds can thoughtfully read it and through that process gain knowledge. We often forget this and design instruction as if recall were equivalent to knowledge."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"We need to remember that all knowledge exists in and through critical thought. All the subject areas – mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, and so on – are not simply modes of thinking, but, more precisely, modes of disciplined thinking. We know mathematics not to the extent that we can recite mathematical formulas and \"mindlessly\" apply them when asked, but only to the extent that we can think with mathematical discipline. We know science not to the extent that we can recall sentences from our science textbooks, but only to the extent that we can think with scientific discipline. We understand sociology only to the extent that we can think with sociological discipline, history only to the extent that we can think with historical discipline, and philosophy only to the extent that we can think with philosophical discipline."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"When we teach each subject in such a way that students pass courses without having to discipline their thinking to achieve the knowledge that each makes possible, students leave their courses without any more knowledge than they had when they entered them. When we sacrifice disciplined thought to gain coverage, we sacrifice knowledge at the same time. The issue is not, \"Shall we sacrifice knowledge to spend time on intellectual discipline?\", but, \"Shall we continue to sacrifice both knowledge and intellectual discipline for the mere appearance of learning, for mis-learning, for fragmentary learning, for transitory learning, for inert, confused learning?”"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"}]}

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