Blog Post: 1992 Interview with Richard Paul in Think Magazine (Part 1)

Richard Paul Archives
Jan 24, 2022 • 201d ago
1992 Interview with Richard Paul in Think Magazine (Part 1)

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Abstract"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"In this interview for "},{"insert":"Think "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"magazine (April '92)."},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Richard Paul provides a quick"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":" overview of critical thinking and the issues surrounding it: defining it, common mistakes in assessing it, and its relation to communication skills, self-esteem, collaborative learning, motivation, curiosity, job skills for the future, national standards, and assessment strategies."},{"insert":"\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"Critical thinking is essential to effective learning and productive living. Would you share your definition of critical thinking?"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"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. Two things are crucial: 1) critical thinking is not just thinking, but thinking which entails self-improvement and 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)."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"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. Most teachers were not taught how to assess thinking through standards; indeed, often the thinking of teachers themselves is very \"undisciplined\" and reflects a lack of internalized intellectual standards."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"Could you give me an example?"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"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. If we are trying to foster quality thinking, we don't want students simply to assert things; we want them to try to reason things out on the basis of evidence and good reasons. Often, teachers are unclear about this basic difference. Many teachers are apt to take student writing or speech which is fluent and witty or glib and amusing as good thinking. They are often unclear about the constituents of good reasoning. Hence, even though a student may just be asserting things, not reasoning things out at all, if she is doing so with vivacity and flamboyance, teachers are apt to take this to be equivalent to good reasoning. This was made clear in a recent California state-wide writing assessment in which teachers and testers applauded a student essay, which they said illustrated “exceptional achievement” in reasoned evaluation, an essay that contained no reasoning at all, that was nothing more than one subjective reaction after another."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"The assessing teachers and testers did not notice that the student failed to respond to the directions, did not support his judgment with reasons and evidence, did not consider possible criteria on which to base his judgment, did not analyze the subject in the light of the criteria, and did not select evidence that clearly supported his judgment. Instead the student 1) described an emotional exchange, 2) asserted—without evidence—some questionable claims, and 3) expressed a variety of subjective preferences. The assessing teachers were apparently not clear enough about the nature of evaluative reasoning or the basic notions of criteria, evidence, reasons, and well-supported judgment to notice the discrepancy. The result was, by the way, that a flagrantly misgraded student essay was showcased nationally (in ASCD’s Developing Minds), systematically misleading the 150,000 or so teachers who read the publication."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"Could this possibly be a rare mistake, not representative of teacher knowledge?"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"I don't think so. Let me suggest a way in which you could begin to test my contention. If you are familiar with any thinking skills programs, ask some one knowledgeable about it the “Where's the beef?” question, namely, “What intellectual standards does the program articulate and teach?” I think you will first find that the person is puzzled about what you mean. 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. 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. This misses the point. 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."},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"What is the solution to this problem? How, as a practical matter, can we solve it?"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"Well, not with more gimmicks or quick-fixes. Not with more fluff for teachers. 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. The city of Greensboro, North Carolina has just such a long-term, quality, critical thinking program. So that’s one model your readers might look at. In addition, there is a new national organization, the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction, that is focused precisely on the articulation of standards for thinking, not just in general, but for every academic subject area. It is now setting up research-based committees and regional offices to disseminate its recommendations. I am hopeful that eventually, through efforts such as these, we can move from the superficial to the substantial in fostering quality student thinking. The present level of instruction for thinking is very low indeed."},{"insert":"\n"}]}


194 Views     0 Comments


Submit a comment


Comments

Be the first to comment!