Blog Post: Critical Thinking and the State of Education Today (Part 6 of 8: “The Second Wave of Critical Thinking Research & Practice; 1980-1996 - Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum Across the Grades”)

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Apr 19, 2021 • 23d ago
Critical Thinking and the State of Education Today (Part 6 of 8: “The Second Wave of Critical Thinking Research & Practice; 1980-1996 - Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum Across the Grades”)

{"ops":[{"insert":"This article was published in the Winter 1996 issue of Sonoma State University’s Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines (vol. 16, no. 2) and was titled, “Critical Thinking and the State of Education Today.” The piece was divided into eight sections:\n\n“Understanding Substantive Critical Thinking / Avoiding the Growing List of Counterfeits”"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“No One Definition But A Common Core of Meaning”"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“A Brief History of the Idea of Critical Thinking”"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“The State of the Field Today: Three Waves of Research, With Little Sense of History”"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“The First Wave of Critical Thinking Research & Practice / 1970-1996 / Formal & Informal Logic Courses”"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“The Second Wave of Critical Thinking Research & Practice / 1980-1996 / Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum Across the Grades”"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“The Third Wave of Critical Thinking Research & Practice / 1985- / Depth & Comprehensiveness in Theory & Practice”"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"“Conclusion”"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nThe sixth of these sections appears below.\n\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Second Wave Research Concerns:"},{"insert":"\n\nThe development of a model for teaching critical thinking at some educational level or within some particular subject"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"The development of a theory of critical thinking within a given domain or subject"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Exploration of the relation of critical thinking to emotion"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Exploration of the relation of critical thinking to the media"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Exploration of the relation of critical thinking to problem-solving"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Exploration of the relation of critical thinking to creative thinking"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Exploration of .the relation of critical thinking to sound business organization and management"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Exploration of the relation of critical thinking to parenting"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Exploration of the relation of critical thinking to political and ideological agendas"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"Research in cognitive psychology"},{"attributes":{"list":"bullet"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nThe second wave of critical thinking research and practice began when increasing numbers of educators and administrators began to recognize that one course in critical thinking at the college level does not a critical thinker make. The problem for these reformers was transformed from "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"“"},{"insert":"How"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"should one design an isolated critical thinking course for college students?\" to “How"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"can critical thinking be integrated into instruction across all subjects and all grade levels?\"; from “What"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"is informal logic, reasoning, and argumentation?\" to “What"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"is the role of emotion – or intuition or culture or gender or problem – solving or creative thinking or political and ideological positioning-in thinking?\" \n \nUnfortunately, many second wave reformers were not at all clear on how to integrate critical thinking into instruction across the curriculum or across grade levels. The concept of informal logic which had been developed in and for critical thinking and informal logic courses did not translate readily into the “logic”"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"of the disciplines, let alone into the \"logic\" of everyday life. For, though informal logicians were often clear and rigorous in the development of theory, the theory they developed was narrowly conceived. In other words, most informal logicians have never seriously considered the challenge of developing a theory of critical thinking adequate for the teaching of all subjects across all grade levels. Informal logic was not conceived as applicable to virtually all human contexts. The theory of the informal logician remained the theory of a specialist thinking and writing for other specialists (about a subject of relatively narrow scope). It was not the thinking of a comprehensive educational thinker writing for educational reformers. It was not the thinking of a comprehensive mind considering broad and comprehensive problems.\n \nFrom a third wave perspective, an adequate account of informal logic and critical thinking must shed significant light on the logic of everyday thinking as well as on the logic of the disciplines (if it is to attract the attention of educational reformers and those concerned with the application of critical thinking to everyday life). Problems in business, parenting, everyday relationships, politics, civics, and such, cannot easily be addressed within the framework of current theories of logic. And since critical thinking makes sense whenever and wherever thinking might go awry, the logic of critical thinking must be broad and encompassing, not narrow and specialized.\n \nUnfortunately, second wave reformers did not set out to broaden the basis of informal logic and reasoning. Rather, some second wave reformers mistakenly rejected \"logic\" rather than worked to expand it. To some logic constrained thinking, limited creativity, discounted intuition. Others seemed simply to ignore logic and focused instead on any of the various \"discoveries\" and popular theories of thinking. In fact, the field of \"thinking\" became, and still is, a veritable hodge-podge, some work bordering on charlatanism. Quick-fixes for teaching and understanding thinking became commonplace. Quick-fixes ruled, and still rule, reform efforts at all educational levels.\n \nOtherwise respectable educational organizations sponsored approaches to thinking that were simplistic and glitzy. Big money began to move into the field, since there was much money to be made by quick-fix programs that implied that thinking could be quickly and painlessly upgraded by educators, even by those who had never themselves studied thinking and thought poorly themselves. Instant success was promised. The phenomena of pseudo-critical thinking became common.\n \nStates set up new testing strategies that were claimed to be higher order. California mounted a very expensive new testing system in reading and writing which was touted to be focused on critical thinking-when it in fact was simply subjective and poorly designed. The result was a political battle between the \"liberals\" who liked the test and \"conservatives\" who thought it advanced a liberal agenda. Eventually the governor vetoed the test.\n \nOther second wave researchers – most principally cognitive psychologists – have focused concern on the manner in which experts and novices think. They have developed various theories of \"thinking\" and \"intelligence,\" however this research and these theories often lack a philosophical foundation, regularly ignore the problem of the intellectual assessment of thinking, and, like first wave informal logic research, lack a clear connection to the comprehensive problem of teaching subject matter in a variety of fields. The \"practical\" suggestions developed were more often like a bag of tricks than a coherent pedagogy. The problem of long-term infusion was significantly addressed.\n\nThough second wave did not explicitly call for an abandonment of \"logic\" and additional attention was directed at explicating various subject areas in the light of some theory of critical thinking, there was little effort to marry the insights of the first wave with the needs of the second. Little was done, for example, to explicate the logic of history, the logic of math, bio-logic, socio-Iogic, psycho-Iogic, the logic implicit in disciplined ways of thinking. After all, what does it mean to think historically, to think geographically, to think mathematically, to think philosophically, to think aesthetically, etc. These are pressing second wave questions. However, since most subject matter specialists have not studied informal or formal logic, they are not well-positioned to integrate insights from logic into their concept of their field.\n\nIn short, the variety of attempts to reconstruct (with little background in informal logic or theory of critical thinking) the role of critical thinking within a domain, has tended to result in disjointed and sometimes superficial results. The upshot is often a hodge-podge of ideas, often superficial, usually incomplete, and in some cases, arbitrary. The phenomenon of instant-expert in critical thinking becomes commonplace. Those who decide to write an article on critical thinking become, in their minds, an expert overnight. Programs are rushed into press to capitalize on the emerging market for critical thinking.\n"}]}

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