Blog Post: Critical Thinking: Where, Why, and How [Part 1 of 3]

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Dec 15, 2020 • 3y ago
Critical Thinking: Where, Why, and How [Part 1 of 3]

{"ops":[{"insert":"Richard Paul’s introduction to the program for the 7th International Conference on Critical Thinking (1989) bore the title, \"Critical Thinking: What, Why, and How.\" This article was divided into three sections: \"The Logically Illogical Animal,\" \"Knowledge as Thinking,\" and \"Lower Order Learning.\" The first of these appears below.\n\nReaders will note that Dr. Paul's final sentence, though seemingly intended to encourage patience, drastically underestimated how long human societies might take to incorporate critical thinking into formal education.\n\n\nIronically, humans are not simply the only “logical” animal, they are also the only ‘Illogical” animal. They are the only animal that uses meanings – ideas, concepts, analogies, metaphors, models, theories, and explanations – to make sense of things, to understand, predict, and control things. They are also the only animal that uses meanings to negate, contradict, and deceive itself, to misconceive, to distort, and stereotype, to become dogmatic, prejudiced, and narrowminded. Humans are the only animal whose thinking can be characterized in terms like clear, precise, accurate, relevant, consistent, profound, and fair; they are also the only animal whose thinking is often imprecise, vague, inaccurate, irrelevant, superficial, trivial, and biased."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"Critical thinking makes sense in the light of this paradoxical dichotomy. Humans ought not simply trust their instincts. They ought not believe unquestioningly what spontaneously occurs to them. They ought not accept as true everything taught as true. They ought not assume their experience is unbiased. They need to form, they are not born with, intellectually sound standards for belief, for truth, for validity. They need to cultivate habits and traits which integrate these standards into their lives."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"This logical-illogical dichotomy of human nature has implications for human learning. One can learn by means of the rational capacities of the human mind or through its irrational propensities. There are profound reasons for cultivating the capacity of the human mind to discipline and direct its thought through commitment to intellectual standards. Unfortunately much academic learning is of a lower order: undisciplined, associative, and inert. Much of it is an obstacle rather than an aid to education. Much of it is a block to genuine understanding."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"What students often learn well – that school is a place to repeat back what the teacher or textbook said – blocks the student from thinking seriously about what he or she is learning. Though there are circumstances in everyday life where lower order rote learning is sufficient, those circumstances are diminishing rapidly. At the same time the damage done by multiple forms of prejudice and narrowmindedness – academic, social, personal, professional, religious, racial, national, and ideological – continues to mount. The irony is that higher order learning can be cultivated in almost any academic setting. By focusing on the rational capacities of students’ minds, by designing instruction so that students explicitly grasp the sense, the logicalness, of what they are learning, we can make all additional learning easier for them."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"The question of whether schools can do a better job of teaching American children “higher order skills” is very much in the air. It arises in Congressional hearings, where calls are heard for school graduates better able to take on work that requires responsibility and judgment. It is reflected in public concern that changing employment demands are not being met, students’ preparation for college is less than satisfactory, and general problem-solving abilities remain low."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"Recognition of the social, political and moral implications of lower order learning is growing with the recognition that both developed and underdeveloped nations face complex problems that cannot be solved except with significant intellectual growth on the part of large masses of people. Such growth presupposes increased reflective and critical thinking about deep-seated problems of environmental damage, human relations, over-population, rising expectations, diminishing resources, global competition, personal goals, and ideological conflict."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"This problem of lower order learning will not be solved outside of school, for the lay person is increasingly bombarded with diverse contradictory explanations and prescriptions. Lacking experience with complex thinking, unused to critical thinking, the ordinary person retreats in the face of complexity to simplistic traditional pictures of the world. The growing mass media feed this demand for simple-minded answers. If schools and colleges do not cultivate a shift from rote memorization to critical thinking, there is little possibility that the shift will significantly occur outside of school."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"To affect this shift, teachers and professors must consider new a concept of knowledge, learning, and literacy, one more in tune with the modern world, one that links the acquisition of knowledge with dialogical and dialectical thinking, with the development of minds at home with complexity and ambiguity, able to adjust their thinking to accelerating changes, minds not fixated on present beliefs, not easily manipulated or taken in by propaganda. The theoretical foundation for this need and the appropriate way to meet it is now accumulating a solid research base. Its academic implementation is merely beginning: its full development around the world is probably 10 to 25 years in the future."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"}]}


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{"ops":[{"insert":"The projection of 10-25 years in the future, using hindsight, seems overly optimistic. Today, it is still overly optimistic given the illogical condition of the human specie. \nI think this statements of the illogical mind resonates more today than 25 years ago. Perhaps, we have gone backward. \"They are also the only animal that uses meanings to negate, contradict, and deceive itself, to misconceive, to distort, and stereotype, to become dogmatic, prejudiced, and narrowminded.\" \nOf course, there is hope. The logical mind of \"ideas, concepts, analogies, metaphors, models, theories, and explanations – to make sense of things, to understand, predict, and control things.\"\nI found this 60 Minutes on the "},{"attributes":{"link":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM3gSgvN2Fw"},"insert":"new vaccination"},{"insert":", a sign of hope for the human specie. It took 30 years to define with much \"trail and error\" of the logical mind with Intellectual Perveance and Courage. \n\n"}]}



Posted by: Joseph Halter

{"ops":[{"insert":"The projection of 10-25 years in the future, using hindsight, seems overly optimistic. Today, it is still overly optimistic given the illogical condition of the human specie.\nI think this statements of the illogical mind resonates more today than 25 years ago. Perhaps, we have gone backward. \"They are also the only animal that uses meanings to negate, contradict, and deceive itself, to misconceive, to distort, and stereotype, to become dogmatic, prejudiced, and narrowminded.\"\nOf course, there is hope. The logical mind of \"ideas, concepts, analogies, metaphors, models, theories, and explanations – to make sense of things, to understand, predict, and control things.\"\nI found this 60 Minutes on the "},{"attributes":{"link":"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM3gSgvN2Fw"},"insert":"new vaccination"},{"insert":", a sign of hope for the human specie. It took 30 years to discovery with much \"trail and error\" of the logical mind with Intellectual Perveance and Courage.\n"}]}