Blog Post: [Part 10] Critical Thinking and the Critical Person

Richard Paul Archives
Aug 31, 2023 • 324d ago
[Part 10] Critical Thinking and the Critical Person

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 9? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n \nOnce students consider conflicting perspectives, they should actually argue the cases for them, role playing the thought of those who insightfully hold them. This requires students to learn how to collect the “facts” each side marshals to defend its views and analyze their divergent use of key terms. For example, what exactly differentiates those we label "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"freedom fighters"},{"insert":" from those we label "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"terrorists"},{"insert":"? How can we define them without presupposing the truth of someone’s ideology? These crucial terms and many others current in social disputes are often used in self-serving ways by nations and groups, begging most of the crucial social and moral issues. Students need skills in breaking down ideologically biased uses of language. This requires them to develop concepts that do not presuppose specific national ideological slants. This, in turn, requires them to engage in the argumentation for and against their application in key cases.\n \nUnfortunately, even when critical thinking becomes an explicit instructional objective and significant attention is given to formulation of curriculum, unless teachers and curriculum specialists have internalized the concept of strong sense critical thinking, instruction usually fosters sociocentric weak sense critical thinking skills rather than strong sense skills. Consider the following critical thinking writing prompts from a series of similarly constructed items for a state-wide testing program:\n \n-----------\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking Writing Prompt"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" History-Social Science"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Directions: Read the conversation below that might have taken place between two United States citizens during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Speaker 1: These photographs in the newspaper show beyond a doubt that Russians are building missile bases in Cuba. It’s time we took some strong action and did something about it. Let’s get some bombers down there."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Speaker 2: I agree that there are Russian missiles in Cuba, but I don’t agree with the solution you suggest. What would the world think about America dropping bombs on a neighboring small island?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Speaker 1: I think the only way to deal with the threat of force is force. If we do nothing, it’s the same as saying it’s okay to let them put missiles that will threaten the whole hemisphere. Let’s eliminate those missile bases now with military force."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Speaker 2: The solution you propose would certainly eliminate those bases, but innocent people might be killed, and world opinion might be against us. What if we try talking to the Russians first and then try a blockade of their ships around Cuba, or something like that?"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Speaker 1: That kind of weak response won’t get us anywhere. Communists only understand force."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Speaker 2: I think we should try other less drastic measures that won’t result in loss of life. Then, if they don’t work, use military action."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Imagine you are a concerned citizen in 1962. Based on the information above, write a letter to President Kennedy about the missile crisis. Take a position and explain to President Kennedy what you think should be done about the missiles in Cuba and why."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"State your position clearly."},{"attributes":{"indent":1,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Use information from the conversation above and from what you know about the missile crisis to support your position."},{"attributes":{"indent":1,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking Writing Prompt"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" History-Social Science"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Directions: Read the information below and answer the questions that follow."},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"The Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"In 1962 an international crisis erupted when the Soviet Union installed missile-launching equipment in Cuba. Because Cuba is only 90 miles from Florida, many Americans felt threatened by the missile bases. On October 26, 1962, President Kennedy sent the following letter to the Soviet Union’s premier, Nikita Khrushchev:"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“You would agree to remove these weapons systems from Cuba under appropriate United Nations’ supervision . . . the first ingredient is the cessation of work on missile sites in Cuba . . . “"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Nikita Khrushchev responded in a letter shortly thereafter by saying:"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“We accept your proposal, and have ordered the Soviet vessels bound for Cuba but not yet within the area of American warships’ piratical activities to stay out of the interception area.”"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"1. Based on the information above about the Cuban Missile crisis, what do you think the central issue or concern is?"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"2. List two facts in the information about the missile crisis."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"3. Do you see any words in either President Kennedy’s or Premier Khrushchev’s letters that might be considered biased or “loaded”? Find which one or ones are “loaded” and list why they are “loaded”."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"4. Based on the information above, which side do you think is the aggressor? Why?"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"5. Khrushchev had spoken earlier of the need for “peaceful coexistence” between the U.S. and USSR. Is arming Cuba with missiles "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"consistent"},{"insert":" with this statement about peaceful coexistence? Why or why not?"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"6. If you had an opportunity to interview Khrushchev in 1962, what question would you ask to find out why he placed missiles in Cuba?"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"7. President Kennedy was convinced that there actually were missile bases in Cuba. If you were President Kennedy in 1962, what information would "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"you"},{"insert":" need to conclude that missile bases actually existed in Cuba?"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"8. If Cuba had been permitted to install missile bases, what effect would this have had on Cuba’s relationships with other countries?"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking Writing Prompt"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" History-Social Science"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" The Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis"},{"attributes":{"align":"center","indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Directions: Read the information below about missiles in Cuba and answer the questions that follow."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"In 1962, an international crisis erupted when the Soviet Union installed missile-launching equipment in Cuba. Some of the facts relating to the incident are:"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"1. Photographs of Cuba taken by United States planes show missile sites under construction in Cuba."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"2. Long-range missiles are observed near the sites."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"3. Russian supply ships are bringing missile base equipment and technicians to Cuba."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"4. Cuba is only 90 miles from the United States."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"5. The President’s military advisers recommend that the missiles be removed."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"1. What is the central issue?"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"2. Write one question you might want to ask the United States military advisers."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"3. Write one question you might want to ask Soviet Premier Khrushchev."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"4. What does the United States assume that Cuba will do with the missiles?"},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"5. List two actions the United States might have taken in response to this crisis."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"6. List two facts that support one of the actions identified in item 5."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"7. Imagine you are a concerned citizen who has been following the above events with great interest. You decide to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. Write your letter on this sheet of paper. In your letter, take a stand on the situation in Cuba and clearly explain your reason."},{"attributes":{"indent":2},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" State your position clearly."},{"attributes":{"indent":2,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" Use information from the list and from what you know about the missile crisis to support your position."},{"attributes":{"indent":2,"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Editor"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Daily Bugle"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Yourtown, USA"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Dear Editor:"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"-----------"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nIn every case, the student has "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"none "},{"insert":"of the facts to which a Soviet might call attention, or any sense of how a Soviet might use them to develop an opposing line of reasoning.\n \nImagine, in contrast, a test item that provided a list of facts to which United States observers might allude (such as those preceding), followed by a list of facts to which Soviets might allude, including perhaps these: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"a) "},{"insert":"the United States already had placed many of its own missiles within 90 miles of the Soviet border; "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"b) "},{"insert":"Cuba is a sovereign country; "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"c) "},{"insert":"the United States had rejected Soviet complaints that it had put missiles too close to their borders by saying that the countries where the missiles were placed were sovereign countries.\n\nAfter giving students the two lists of facts, one could give short arguments in favor of the opposed positions. Then the students might be asked to answer the same kinds of questions as the original prompt. Other contrasting lists of facts could be provided regarding many of the tense situations that have characterized the Cold War, and the students could be given a variety of dialogical writing and role-playing assignments. Through such assignments the students could come to understand how Soviets actually reason about the conflicts and tensions that have characterized the history of the two countries. They would learn not to presuppose that their country is always right. They would develop a much more realistic sense of how governments of all kinds often act in ways they themselves (the various governments) would disapprove of were “the enemy” to do what they do.\n"}]}

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