Blog Post: 1992 Interview with Richard Paul in Think Magazine (Part 2)

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Feb 01, 2022 • 194d ago
1992 Interview with Richard Paul in Think Magazine (Part 2)

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","bold":true},"insert":"[Missed Part 1? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"color":"#242021","link":"https://community.criticalthinking.org/blogPost.php?param=140"},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","bold":true},"insert":"]"},{"insert":"\n\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"But there are many areas of concern in instruction, not just one, not just critical thinking, but communication skills, problem solving, creative thinking, collaborative learning, self-esteem, and so forth. How are districts to deal with the full array of needs? How are they to do all of these rather than simply one, no matter how important that one may be?"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"This is the key. Everything essential to education supports everything else essential to education. It is only when good things in education are viewed superficially and wrongly that they seem disconnected, a bunch of separate goals, a conglomeration of separate problems, like so many bee bees in a bag. In fact, any well-conceived program in critical thinking requires the integration of all of the skills and abilities you mentioned above. Hence, critical thinking is not a set of skills separable from excellence in communication, problem solving, creative thinking, or collaborative learning, nor is it indifferent to one’s sense of self-worth."},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"Could you explain briefly why this is so?"},{"insert":"\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"Consider critical thinking first. We think critically when we have at least one problem to solve. One is not doing good critical thinking, therefore, if one is not solving any problems. If there is no problem there is no point in thinking critically. The “opposite” is also true. Uncritical problem solving is unintelligible. There is no way to effectively solve problems unless one thinks critically about the nature of the problems and of how to go about solving them. Thinking our way through a problem to a solution, then, is critical thinking, not something else. Furthermore, critical thinking, because it involves our working out afresh our own thinking on a subject, and because our own thinking is always a unique product of our self-structured experience, ideas, and reasoning, is intrinsically a new “creation”, a new “making”, a new set of cognitive and affective structures of some kind. 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”."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"The “making” and the “testing of that making” are intimately interconnected. In critical thinking we make and shape ideas and experiences so that they may be used to structure and solve problems, frame decisions, and, as the case may be, effectively communicate with others. The making, shaping, testing, structuring, solving, and communicating are not different activities of a fragmented mind but the same seamless whole viewed from different perspectives."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"How do communication skills fit in?"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"Some communication is surface communication, trivial communication—surface and trivial communication don’t really require education. All of us can engage in small talk, can share gossip. And we don't require any intricate skills to do that fairly well. Where communication becomes part of our educational goal is in reading, writing, speaking and listening. These are the four modalities of communication which are essential to education and each of them is a mode of reasoning. Each of them involves problems. Each of them is shot through with critical thinking needs. Take the apparently simple matter of reading a book worth reading. The author has developed her thinking in the book, has taken some ideas and in some way represented those ideas in extended form. Our job as a reader is to translate the meaning of the author into meanings that we can understand. This is a complicated process requiring critical thinking every step along the way. What is the purpose for the book? What is the author trying to accomplish? What issues or problems are raised? What data, what experiences, what evidence are given? What concepts are used to organize this data, these experiences? How is the author thinking about the world? Is her thinking justified as far as we can see from our perspective? And how does she justify it from her perspective? How can we enter her perspective to appreciate what she has to say? All of these are the kinds of questions that a critical reader raises. And a critical reader in this sense is simply someone trying to come to terms with the text."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"So if one is an uncritical reader, writer, speaker, or listener, one is not a good reader, writer, speaker, or listener at all. To do any of these well is to think critically while doing so and, at one and the same time, to solve specific problems of communication, hence to effectively communicate. Communication, in short, is always a transaction between at least two logics. In reading, as I have said, there is the logic of the thinking of the author and the logic of the thinking of the reader. The critical reader reconstructs (and so translates) the logic of the writer into the logic of the reader’s thinking and experience. This entails disciplined intellectual work. The end result is a new creation; the writer’s thinking for the first time now exists within the reader’s mind. No mean feat!"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"And self-esteem? How does it fit in?"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"Healthy self-esteem emerges from a justified sense of self-worth, just as self-worth emerges from competence, ability, and genuine success. If one simply feels good about oneself for no good reason, then one is either arrogant (which is surely not desirable), or, alternatively, has a dangerous sense of misplaced confidence. Teenagers, for example, sometimes think so well of themselves that they operate under the illusion that they can safely drive while drunk or safely take drugs. They often feel much too highly of their own competence and powers and are much too unaware of their limitations. To accurately sort out genuine self-worth from a false sense of self-esteem requires, yes, you guessed it, critical thinking."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Question: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":"And finally, what about collaborative learning? How does it fit in?"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021","italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"color":"#0063a4","bold":true},"insert":"Paul: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"Collaborative learning is desirable only if grounded in disciplined critical thinking. Without critical thinking, collaborative learning is likely to become collaborative mis-learning. It is collective bad thinking in which the bad thinking being shared becomes validated. Remember, gossip is a form of collaborative learning; peer group indoctrination is a form of collaborative learning; mass hysteria is a form of speed collaborative learning (mass learning of a most undesirable kind). We learn prejudices collaboratively, social hates and fears collaboratively, stereotypes and narrowness of mind collaboratively. If we don’t put disciplined critical thinking into the heart and soul of the collaboration, we get the mode of collaboration which is antithetical to education, knowledge, and insight."},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#242021"},"insert":"So there are a lot of important educational goals deeply tied into critical thinking just as critical thinking is deeply tied into them. Basically the problem in the schools is that we separate things, treat them in isolation and mistreat them as a result. We end up with a superficial representation, then, of each of the individual things that is essential to education, rather than seeing how each important good thing helps inform all the others."},{"insert":"\n"}]}


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