Monday, March 05, 2007

The Art of Critical Thinking

The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts & Tools
Richard Paul & Linda Elder
Foundation for Critical Thinking


View Book Sample
(Table of Contents, overviews and selected pages)

Why Critical Thinking?

The Problem:
Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.

A Definition:
Critical thinking is a process by which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result:
A well cultivated critical thinker:

• raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
• gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
• comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
• thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
• communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It requires rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.

The Elements of Thought
.
Purposes
Questions
Points of View
Information
Inferences
Concepts
Implications
Assumptions
.
Universal Intellectual Standards

Clarity
Accuracy
Precision
Relevance
Depth
Breadth
Logic
Significance
Fairness

Intellectual Traits or Virtues

Intellectual Autonomy
Intellectual Integrity
Intellectual Humility
Intellectual Empathy
Intellectual Courage
Fairmindedness
Intellectual Perseverance
Confidence in Reason

.

1 comment:

Maya said...

I think this is a great concept; I would love to see this same webpage embellished with some specific examples, scenarios, etc.

Speaking for myself, it would make the critical thinking idea more tangible and real.

Thanks!

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