El Jefe Xplora Critical Thinking

A Draft Statement of Principles


Goals


The goals of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction are as follows:

  1. To articulate, preserve, and foster high standards of research, scholarship, and instruction in critical thinking.

  2. To articulate the standards upon which "quality" thinking is based and the criteria by means of which thinking, and instruction for thinking, can be appropriately cultivated and assessed.

  3. To assess programs which claim to foster higher-order critical thinking.

  4. To disseminate information that aids educators and others in identifying quality critical thinking programs and approaches which ground the reform and restructuring of education on a systematic cultivation of disciplined universal and domain specific intellectual standards.

 

Founding Principles

  1. There is an intimate interrelation between knowledge and thinking.

  2. Knowing that something is so is not simply a matter of believing that it is so, it also entails being justified in that belief (Definition: Knowledge is justified true belief).

  3. There are general, as well as domain-specific, standards for the assessment of thinking.

  4. To achieve knowledge in any domain, it is essential to think critically.

  5. Critical thinking is based on articulable intellectual standards and hence is intrinsically subject to assessment by those standards.

  6. Criteria for the assessment of thinking in all domains are based on such general standards as: clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, significance, fairness, logic, depth, and breadth, evidentiary support, probability, predictive or explanatory power. These standards, and others, are embedded not only in the history of the intellectual and scientific communities, but also in the self-assessing behavior of reasonable persons in everyday life. It is possible to teach all subjects in such a way as to encourage the use of these intellectual standards in both professional and personal life.

  7. Instruction in critical thinking should increasingly enable students to assess both their own thought and action and that of others by reference, ultimately, to standards such as those above. It should lead progressively, in other words, to a disciplining of the mind and to a self-chosen commitment to a life of intellectual and moral integrity.

  8. Instruction in all subject domains should result in the progressive disciplining of the mind with respect to the capacity and disposition to think critically within that domain. Hence, instruction in science should lead to disciplined scientific thinking; instruction in mathematics should lead to disciplined mathematical thinking; instruction in history should lead to disciplined historical thinking; and in a parallel manner in every discipline and domain of learning.

  9. Disciplined thinking with respect to any subject involves the capacity on the part of the thinker to recognize, analyze, and assess the basic elements of thought: the purpose or goal of the thinking; the problem or question at issue; the frame of reference or points of view involved; assumptions made; central concepts and ideas at work; principles or theories used; evidence, data, or reasons advanced, claims made and conclusions drawn; inferences, reasoning, and lines of formulated thought; and implications and consequences involved.

  10. Critical reading, writing, speaking, and listening are academically essential modes of learning. To be developed generally they must be systematically cultivated in a variety of subject domains as well as with respect to interdisciplinary issues. Each are modes of thinking which are successful to the extent that they are disciplined and guided by critical thought and reflection.

  11. The earlier that children develop sensitivity to the standards of sound thought and reasoning, the more likely they will develop desirable intellectual habits and become open-minded persons responsive to reasonable persuasion.

  12. Education - in contrast to training, socialization, and indoctrination - implies a process conducive to critical thought and judgment. It is intrinsically committed to the cultivation of reasonability and rationality.

 

History and Philosophy

Critical thinking is integral to education and rationality and, as an idea, is traceable, ultimately, to the teaching practices — and the educational ideal implicit in them — of Socrates of ancient Greece. It has played a seminal role in the emergence of academic disciplines, as well as in the work of discovery of those who created them. Knowledge, in other words, has been discovered and verified by the distinguished critical thinkers of intellectual, scientific, and technological history. For the majority of the idea's history, however, critical thinking has been "buried," a conception in practice without an explicit name. Most recently, however, it has undergone something of an awakening, a coming-out, a first major social expression, signaling perhaps a turning-point in its history.

This awakening is correlated with a growing awareness that if education is to produce critical thinkers en mass, if it is to globally cultivate nations of skilled thinkers and innovators rather than a scattering of thinkers amid an army of intellectually unskilled, undisciplined, and uncreative followers, then a renaissance and re-emergence of the idea of critical thinking as integral to knowledge and understanding is necessary. Such a reawakening and recognition began first in the USA in the later 30's and then surfaced in various forms in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, reaching its most public expression in the 80's and 90's. Nevertheless, despite the scholarship surrounding the idea, despite the scattered efforts to embody it in educational practice, the educational and social acceptance of the idea is still in its infancy, still largely misunderstood, still existing more in stereotype than in substance, more in image than in reality.

The members of the Council (some 8000 plus educators) are committed to high standards of excellence in critical thinking instruction across the curriculum at all levels of education. They are, therefore, concerned with the proliferation of poorly conceived "thinking skills" programs with their simplistic — often slick — approaches to both thinking and instruction. If the current emphasis on critical thinking is genuinely to take root, if it is to avoid the traditional fate of passing educational fad and "buzz word," it is essential that the deep obstacles to its embodiment in quality education be recognized for what they are, reasonable strategies to combat them formulated by leading scholars in the field, and successful communication of both obstacles and strategies to the educational and broader community achieved.

To this end, sound standards of the field of critical thinking research must be made accessible by clear articulation and the means set up for the large-scale dissemination of that articulation. The nature and challenge of critical thinking as an educational ideal must not be allowed to sink into the murky background of educational reform and restructuring efforts, while superficial ideas take its place. Critical thinking must assume its proper place at the hub of educational reform and restructuring. Critical thinking — and intellectual and social development generally — are not well-served when educational discussion is inundated with superficial conceptions of critical thinking and slick merchandizing of "thinking skills" programs while substantial — and necessarily more challenging conceptions and programs — are thrust aside, obscured, or ignored.

 

{"id":"80","title":"A Draft Statement of Principles","author":"Dr. Richard Paul, Chair, NCECT","content":"<p><span style=\"color: #000000;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span></span></p>\r\n<p><strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\"><br /> Goals </span></strong><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><br /> <br /> </span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The goals of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction are as follows:<br /> </span></p>\r\n<ol>\r\n<li>To articulate, preserve, and foster high standards of research, scholarship, and instruction in critical thinking.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>To articulate the standards upon which \"quality\" thinking is based and the criteria by means of which thinking, and instruction for thinking, can be appropriately cultivated and assessed.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>To assess programs which claim to foster higher-order critical thinking.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>To disseminate information that aids educators and others in identifying quality critical thinking programs and approaches which ground the reform and restructuring of education on a systematic cultivation of disciplined universal and domain specific intellectual standards. </li>\r\n</ol>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #000000; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;\"><strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\">Founding Principles</span></strong> </span></p>\r\n<ol>\r\n<li>There is an intimate interrelation between knowledge and thinking.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Knowing that something is so is not simply a matter of believing that it is so, it also entails being justified in that belief (Definition: Knowledge is justified true belief).<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>There are general, as well as domain-specific, standards for the assessment of thinking.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>To achieve knowledge in any domain, it is essential to think critically.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Critical thinking is based on articulable intellectual standards and hence is intrinsically subject to assessment by those standards.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Criteria for the assessment of thinking in all domains are based on such general standards as: clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, significance, fairness, logic, depth, and breadth, evidentiary support, probability, predictive or explanatory power. These standards, and others, are embedded not only in the history of the intellectual and scientific communities, but also in the self-assessing behavior of reasonable persons in everyday life. It is possible to teach all subjects in such a way as to encourage the use of these intellectual standards in both professional and personal life.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Instruction in critical thinking should increasingly enable students to assess both their own thought and action and that of others by reference, ultimately, to standards such as those above. It should lead progressively, in other words, to a disciplining of the mind and to a self-chosen commitment to a life of intellectual and moral integrity.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Instruction in all subject domains should result in the progressive disciplining of the mind with respect to the capacity and disposition to think critically within that domain. Hence, instruction in science should lead to disciplined scientific thinking; instruction in mathematics should lead to disciplined mathematical thinking; instruction in history should lead to disciplined historical thinking; and in a parallel manner in every discipline and domain of learning.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Disciplined thinking with respect to any subject involves the capacity on the part of the thinker to recognize, analyze, and assess the basic elements of thought: the purpose or goal of the thinking; the problem or question at issue; the frame of reference or points of view involved; assumptions made; central concepts and ideas at work; principles or theories used; evidence, data, or reasons advanced, claims made and conclusions drawn; inferences, reasoning, and lines of formulated thought; and implications and consequences involved.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Critical reading, writing, speaking, and listening are academically essential modes of learning. To be developed generally they must be systematically cultivated in a variety of subject domains as well as with respect to interdisciplinary issues. Each are modes of thinking which are successful to the extent that they are disciplined and guided by critical thought and reflection.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>The earlier that children develop sensitivity to the standards of sound thought and reasoning, the more likely they will develop desirable intellectual habits and become open-minded persons responsive to reasonable persuasion.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Education - in contrast to training, socialization, and indoctrination - implies a process conducive to critical thought and judgment. It is intrinsically committed to the cultivation of reasonability and rationality. </li>\r\n</ol>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n<p><strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\"><span style=\"color: #000099;\">History and Philosophy<br /> </span><br /> </span></strong><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Critical thinking is integral to education and rationality and, as an idea, is traceable, ultimately, to the teaching practices&nbsp;&mdash; and the educational ideal implicit in them&nbsp;&mdash; of Socrates of ancient Greece. It has played a seminal role in the emergence of academic disciplines, as well as in the work of discovery of those who created them. Knowledge, in other words, has been discovered and verified by the distinguished critical thinkers of intellectual, scientific, and technological history. For the majority of the idea's history, however, critical thinking has been \"buried,\" a conception in practice without an explicit name. Most recently, however, it has undergone something of an awakening, a coming-out, a first major social expression, signaling perhaps a turning-point in its history. <br /> <br /> This awakening is correlated with a growing awareness that if education is to produce critical thinkers en mass, if it is to globally cultivate nations of skilled thinkers and innovators rather than a scattering of thinkers amid an army of intellectually unskilled, undisciplined, and uncreative followers, then a renaissance and re-emergence of the idea of critical thinking as integral to knowledge and understanding is necessary. Such a reawakening and recognition began first in the USA in the later 30's and then surfaced in various forms in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, reaching its most public expression in the 80's and 90's. Nevertheless, despite the scholarship surrounding the idea, despite the scattered efforts to embody it in educational practice, the educational and social acceptance of the idea is still in its infancy, still largely misunderstood, still existing more in stereotype than in substance, more in image than in reality.<br /> <br /> The members of the Council (some 8000 plus educators) are committed to high standards of excellence in critical thinking instruction across the curriculum at all levels of education. They are, therefore, concerned with the proliferation of poorly conceived \"thinking skills\" programs with their simplistic&nbsp;&mdash; often slick&nbsp;&mdash; approaches to both thinking and instruction. If the current emphasis on critical thinking is genuinely to take root, if it is to avoid the traditional fate of passing educational fad and \"buzz word,\" it is essential that the deep obstacles to its embodiment in quality education be recognized for what they are, reasonable strategies to combat them formulated by leading scholars in the field, and successful communication of both obstacles and strategies to the educational and broader community achieved. <br /> <br /> To this end, sound standards of the field of critical thinking research must be made accessible by clear articulation and the means set up for the large-scale dissemination of that articulation. The nature and challenge of critical thinking as an educational ideal must not be allowed to sink into the murky background of educational reform and restructuring efforts, while superficial ideas take its place. Critical thinking must assume its proper place at the hub of educational reform and restructuring. Critical thinking&nbsp;&mdash; and intellectual and social development generally&nbsp;&mdash; are not well-served when educational discussion is inundated with superficial conceptions of critical thinking and slick merchandizing of \"thinking skills\" programs while substantial&nbsp;&mdash; and necessarily more challenging conceptions and programs&nbsp;&mdash; are thrust aside, obscured, or ignored. <br /> </span></span></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":[],"images":[]}


Elements of Thought

 
If teachers want their students to think well, they must help students understand at least the rudiments of thought, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. In other words, students must learn how to take thinking apart. All thinking is defined by the eight elements that make it up. Eight basic structures are present in all thinking.  Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences.  We use concepts, ideas, and theories to interpret data, facts, and experiences in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues.  Thinking, then, generates purposes, raises questions, uses information, utilizes concepts, makes inferences, makes assumptions, generates implications, and embodies a point of view. Students should understand that each of these structures has implications for the others. If they change their purpose or agenda, they change their questions and problems. If they change their questions and problems, they are forced to seek new information and data, and so on. Students should regularly use the following checklist for reasoning to improve their thinking in any discipline or subject area:

  1. All reasoning has a purpose.
    1. State your purpose clearly.
    2. Distinguish your purpose from related purposes.
    3. Check periodically to be sure you are still on target.
    4. Choose significant and realistic purposes.

  2. All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, solve some problem.
    1. State the question at issue clearly and precisely.
    2. Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope.
    3. Break the question into sub-questions.
    4. Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion and from those that require consideration of multiple viewpoints.

  3. All reasoning is based on assumptions (beliefs you take for granted).
    1. Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable.
    2. Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.

  4. All reasoning is done from some point of view.
    1. Identify your point of view.
    2. Seek other points of view and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
    3. Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view.

  5. All reasoning is based on data, information, and evidence.
    1. Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have.
    2. Search for information that opposes your position, as well as information that supports it.
    3. Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate, and relevant to the question at issue.
    4. Make sure you have gathered sufficient information.

  6. All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas.
    1. Identify key concepts and explain them clearly.
    2. Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts.
    3. Make sure you are using concepts with care and precision.

  7. All reasoning contains inferences or interpretations by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data.
    1. Infer only what the evidence implies.
    2. Check inferences for their consistency with each other.
    3. Identify assumptions that lead you to your inferences.

  8. All reasoning leads somewhere or has implications and consequences.
    1. Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning.
    2. Search for negative as well as positive implications.
    3. Consider all possible consequences.

{"id":81,"title":"Elements of Thought","author":"Linda Elder and Richard Paul","content":"&lt;p&gt;&lt;span id=\"__mce\" style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;br /&gt; &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;If teachers want their students to think well, they must help students understand at least the rudiments of thought, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. In other words, students must learn how to take thinking apart. All thinking is defined by the eight elements that make it up. Eight basic structures are present in all thinking.&amp;nbsp; Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences.&amp;nbsp; We use concepts, ideas, and theories to interpret data, facts, and experiences in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues.&amp;nbsp; &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;Thinking, then, generates purposes, raises questions, uses information, utilizes concepts, makes inferences, makes assumptions, generates implications, and embodies a point of view. Students should understand that each of these structures has implications for the others. If they change their purpose or agenda, they change their questions and problems. If they change their questions and problems, they are forced to seek new information and data, and so on. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;Students should regularly use the following checklist for reasoning to improve their thinking in any discipline or subject area: &lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;\r\n&lt;ol&gt;&lt;span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning has a &lt;strong&gt;purpose&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;State your purpose clearly. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Distinguish your purpose from related purposes. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Check periodically to be sure you are still on target. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Choose significant and realistic purposes.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some &lt;strong&gt;question&lt;/strong&gt;, solve some &lt;strong&gt;problem&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;State the question at issue clearly and precisely. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Break the question into sub-questions. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion and from those that require consideration of multiple viewpoints.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is based on &lt;strong&gt;assumptions&lt;/strong&gt; (beliefs you take for granted). &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is done from some &lt;strong&gt;point of view&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Identify your point of view. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Seek other points of view and identify their strengths and weaknesses. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is based on &lt;strong&gt;data, information&lt;/strong&gt;, and &lt;strong&gt;evidence&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Search for information that opposes your position, as well as information that supports it. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate, and relevant to the question at issue. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Make sure you have gathered sufficient information.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, &lt;strong&gt;concepts&lt;/strong&gt; and &lt;strong&gt;ideas&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Identify key concepts and explain them clearly. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Make sure you are using concepts with care and precision.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning contains &lt;strong&gt;inferences&lt;/strong&gt; or &lt;strong&gt;interpretations&lt;/strong&gt; by which we draw &lt;strong&gt;conclusions&lt;/strong&gt; and give meaning to data. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Infer only what the evidence implies. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Check inferences for their consistency with each other. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Identify assumptions that lead you to your inferences.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning leads somewhere or has &lt;strong&gt;implications&lt;/strong&gt; and &lt;strong&gt;consequences&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Search for negative as well as positive implications. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Consider all possible consequences. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/ol&gt;\r\n&lt;p&gt;&lt;br style=\"clear: both;\" /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}


Universal Intellectual Standards

 

Universal intellectual standards are standards which must be applied to thinking whenever one is interested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To think critically entails having command of these standards. To help students learn them, teachers should pose questions which probe student thinking, questions which hold students accountable for their thinking, questions which, through consistent use by the teacher in the classroom, become internalized by students as questions they need to ask themselves.

The ultimate goal, then, is for these questions to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their inner voice, which then guides them to better and better reasoning. While there are a number of universal standards, the following are the most significant:

 

  1. Clarity - Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way? Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example?

    Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don’t yet know what it is saying. For example, the question "What can be done about the education system in America?" is unclear. In order to address the question adequately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the "problem" to be. A clearer question might be "What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?"

     

  2. Accuracy - Is that really true? How could we check that? How could we find out if that is true?

    A statement can be clear but not accurate, as in "Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight."

     

  3. Precision - Could you give more details? Could you be more specific?

    A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in "Jack is overweight." (We don’t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.)

     

  4. Relevance - How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue?

    A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue. For example, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. Often, however, the "effort" does not measure the quality of student learning, and when this is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade.

     

  5. Depth - How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing with the most significant factors?

    A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lacks depth). For example, the statement "Just say No," which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. Nevertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem of drug use among young people, superficially. It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue.

     

  6. Breadth - Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this look like from the point of view of...?

    A line of reasoning may be clear accurate, precise, relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the question.)

     

  7. Logic - Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that follow? But before you implied this and now you are saying that; how can both be true?

    When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the thinking is "logical." When the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in some sense, or does not "make sense," the combination is not logical.

{"id":"82","title":"Universal Intellectual Standards","author":"Linda Elder and Richard Paul","content":"<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">&nbsp;</span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span> </span> <span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> <span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> Universal intellectual standards are standards which must be applied to thinking whenever one is interested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To think critically entails having command of these standards. To help students learn them, teachers should pose questions which probe student thinking, questions which hold students accountable for their thinking, questions which, through consistent use by the teacher in the classroom, become internalized by students as questions they need to ask themselves.</span></span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> <span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span></span></span></span></p>\r\n<p>The ultimate goal, then, is for these questions to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their inner voice, which then guides them to better and better reasoning. While there are a number of universal standards, the following are the most significant:</p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n<ol><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Clarity -</strong> Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way? Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don&rsquo;t yet know what it is saying. For example, the question \"What can be done about the education system in America?\" is unclear. In order to address the question adequately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the \"problem\" to be. A clearer question might be \"What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?\" </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Accuracy -</strong> Is that really true? How could we check that? How could we find out if that is true?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A statement can be clear but not accurate, as in \"Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight.\" </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Precision -</strong> Could you give more details? Could you be more specific?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in \"Jack is overweight.\" (We don&rsquo;t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.) </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Relevance -</strong> How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue. For example, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. Often, however, the \"effort\" does not measure the quality of student learning, and <em>when this is so</em>, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade. </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Depth -</strong> How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing with the most significant factors?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lacks depth). For example, the statement \"Just say No,\" which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. Nevertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem of drug use among young people, superficially. It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue. </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Breadth -</strong> Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this look like from the point of view of...?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A line of reasoning may be clear accurate, precise, relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the question.) </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Logic -</strong> Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that follow? But before you implied this and now you are saying that; how can both be true?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the thinking is \"logical.\" When the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in some sense, or does not \"make sense,\" the combination is not logical.</span></p>\r\n</li>\r\n</span></span></ol>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":[],"images":[]}


Valuable Intellectual Traits


Intellectual traits, or virtues, are interrelated intellectual habits that enable students to discipline and improve mental functioning. Teachers need to keep in mind that critical thinking can be used to serve two incompatible ends: self-centeredness or fair-mindedness. As students learn the basic intellectual skills that critical thinking entails, they can begin to use those skills in either a selfish or in a fair-minded way. For example, when students are taught how to recognize mistakes in reasoning (commonly called fallacies), most students readily see those mistakes in the reasoning of others but do not see them so readily in their own reasoning. Often they enjoy pointing out others' errors and develop some proficiency in making their opponents' thinking look bad, but they don't generally use their understanding of fallacies to analyze and assess their own reasoning. It is thus possible for students to develop as thinkers and yet not to develop as fair-minded thinkers. The best thinkers strive to be fair-minded, even when it means they have to give something up. They recognize that the mind is not naturally fair-minded, but selfish. And they understand that to be fair-minded, they must also develop particular traits of mind, traits such as intellectual humility, intellectual courage, intellectual empathy, intellectual integrity, intellectual perseverance, faith in reason, and fair-mindedness. Teachers should model and discuss the following intellectual traits as they help their students become fair-minded, ethical thinkers.  

  1. Intellectual Humility: Having a consciousness of the limits of one's knowledge, including a sensitivity to circumstances in which one's native egocentrism is likely to function self-deceptively; sensitivity to bias, prejudice and limitations of one's viewpoint. Intellectual humility depends on recognizing that one should not claim more than one actually knows. It does not imply spinelessness or submissiveness. It implies the lack of intellectual pretentiousness, boastfulness, or conceit, combined with insight into the logical foundations, or lack of such foundations, of one's beliefs.

  2. Intellectual Courage: Having a consciousness of the need to face and fairly address ideas, beliefs or viewpoints toward which we have strong negative emotions and to which we have not given a serious hearing. This courage is connected with the recognition that ideas considered dangerous or absurd are sometimes rationally justified (in whole or in part) and that conclusions and beliefs inculcated in us are sometimes false or misleading. To determine for ourselves which is which, we must not passively and uncritically "accept" what we have "learned." Intellectual courage comes into play here, because inevitably we will come to see some truth in some ideas considered dangerous and absurd, and distortion or falsity in some ideas strongly held in our social group. We need courage to be true to our own thinking in such circumstances. The penalties for non-conformity can be severe.

  3. Intellectual Empathy: Having a consciousness of the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others in order to genuinely understand them, which requires the consciousness of our egocentric tendency to identify truth with our immediate perceptions of long-standing thought or belief. This trait correlates with the ability to reconstruct accurately the viewpoints and reasoning of others and to reason from premises, assumptions, and ideas other than our own. This trait also correlates with the willingness to remember occasions when we were wrong in the past despite an intense conviction that we were right, and with the ability to imagine our being similarly deceived in a case-at-hand.

  4. Intellectual Integrity: Recognition of the need to be true to one's own thinking; to be consistent in the intellectual standards one applies; to hold one's self to the same rigorous standards of evidence and proof to which one holds one's antagonists; to practice what one advocates for others; and to honestly admit discrepancies and inconsistencies in one’s own thought and action.

  5. Intellectual Perseverance: Having a consciousness of the need to use intellectual insights and truths in spite of difficulties, obstacles, and frustrations; firm adherence to rational principles despite the irrational opposition of others; a sense of the need to struggle with confusion and unsettled questions over an extended period of time to achieve deeper understanding or insight.

     
  6. Faith In Reason: Confidence that, in the long run, one's own higher interests and those of humankind at large will be best served by giving the freest play to reason, by encouraging people to come to their own conclusions by developing their own rational faculties; faith that, with proper encouragement and cultivation, people can learn to think for themselves, to form rational viewpoints, draw reasonable conclusions, think coherently and logically, persuade each other by reason and become reasonable persons, despite the deep-seated obstacles in the native character of the human mind and in society as we know it.

  7. Fair-mindedness

Socrates set the agenda for the tradition of critical thinking, namely, to reflectively question common beliefs and explanations, carefully distinguishing those beliefs that are reasonable and logical from those which — however appealing they may be to our native egocentrism, however much they serve our vested interests, however comfortable or comforting they may be — lack adequate evidence or rational foundation to warrant our belief.

Socrates’ practice was followed by the critical thinking of Plato (who recorded Socrates’ thought), Aristotle, and the Greek skeptics, all of whom emphasized that things are often very different from what they appear to be and that only the trained mind is prepared to see through the way things look to us on the surface (delusive appearances) to the way they really are beneath the surface (the deeper realities of life). From this ancient Greek tradition emerged the need, for anyone who aspired to understand the deeper realities, to think systematically, to trace implications broadly and deeply, for only thinking that is comprehensive, well-reasoned, and responsive to objections can take us beyond the surface.

In the Middle Ages, the tradition of systematic critical thinking was embodied in the writings and teachings of such thinkers as Thomas Aquinas (Sumna Theologica) who to ensure his thinking met the test of critical thought, always systematically stated, considered, and answered all criticisms of his ideas as a necessary stage in developing them. Aquinas heightened our awareness not only of the potential power of reasoning but also of the need for reasoning to be systematically cultivated and "cross-examined." Of course, Aquinas’ thinking also illustrates that those who think critically do not always reject established beliefs, only those beliefs that lack reasonable foundations.

In the Renaissance (15th and 16th Centuries), a flood of scholars in Europe began to think critically about religion, art, society, human nature, law, and freedom. They proceeded with the assumption that most of the domains of human life were in need of searching analysis and critique. Among these scholars were Colet, Erasmus, and Moore in England. They followed up on the insight of the ancients.

Francis Bacon, in England, was explicitly concerned with the way we misuse our minds in seeking knowledge. He recognized explicitly that the mind cannot safely be left to its natural tendencies. In his book The Advancement of Learning, he argued for the importance of studying the world empirically. He laid the foundation for modern science with his emphasis on the information-gathering processes. He also called attention to the fact that most people, if left to their own devices, develop bad habits of thought (which he called "idols") that lead them to believe what is false or misleading. He called attention to "Idols of the tribe" (the ways our mind naturally tends to trick itself), "Idols of the market-place" (the ways we misuse words), "Idols of the theater" (our tendency to become trapped in conventional systems of thought), and "Idols of the schools" (the problems in thinking when based on blind rules and poor instruction). His book could be considered one of the earliest texts in critical thinking, for his agenda was very much the traditional agenda of critical thinking.

Some fifty years later in France, Descartes wrote what might be called the second text in critical thinking, Rules For the Direction of the Mind. In it, Descartes argued for the need for a special systematic disciplining of the mind to guide it in thinking. He articulated and defended the need in thinking for clarity and precision. He developed a method of critical thought based on the principle of systematic doubt. He emphasized the need to base thinking on well-thought through foundational assumptions. Every part of thinking, he argued, should be questioned, doubted, and tested.

In the same time period, Sir Thomas Moore developed a model of a new social order, Utopia, in which every domain of the present world was subject to critique. His implicit thesis was that established social systems are in need of radical analysis and critique. The critical thinking of these Renaissance and post-Renaissance scholars opened the way for the emergence of science and for the development of democracy, human rights, and freedom for thought.

In the Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli’s The Prince critically assessed the politics of the day, and laid the foundation for modern critical political thought. He refused to assume that government functioned as those in power said it did. Rather, he critically analyzed how it did function and laid the foundation for political thinking that exposes both, on the one hand, the real agendas of politicians and, on the other hand, the many contradictions and inconsistencies of the hard, cruel, world of the politics of his day

Hobbes and Locke (in 16th and 17th Century England) displayed the same confidence in the critical mind of the thinker that we find in Machiavelli. Neither accepted the traditional picture of things dominant in the thinking of their day. Neither accepted as necessarily rational that which was considered "normal" in their culture. Both looked to the critical mind to open up new vistas of learning. Hobbes adopted a naturalistic view of the world in which everything was to be explained by evidence and reasoning. Locke defended a common sense analysis of everyday life and thought. He laid the theoretical foundation for critical thinking about basic human rights and the responsibilities of all governments to submit to the reasoned criticism of thoughtful citizens.

It was in this spirit of intellectual freedom and critical thought that people such as Robert Boyle (in the 17th Century) and Sir Isaac Newton (in the 17th and 18th Century) did their work. In his Sceptical Chymist, Boyle severely criticized the chemical theory that had preceded him. Newton, in turn, developed a far-reaching framework of thought which roundly criticized the traditionally accepted world view. He extended the critical thought of such minds as Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. After Boyle and Newton, it was recognized by those who reflected seriously on the natural world that egocentric views of world must be abandoned in favor of views based entirely on carefully gathered evidence and sound reasoning.

Another significant contribution to critical thinking was made by the thinkers of the French Enlightenment: Bayle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot. They all began with the premise that the human mind, when disciplined by reason, is better able to figure out the nature of the social and political world. What is more, for these thinkers, reason must turn inward upon itself, in order to determine weaknesses and strengths of thought. They valued disciplined intellectual exchange, in which all views had to be submitted to serious analysis and critique. They believed that all authority must submit in one way or another to the scrutiny of reasonable critical questioning.

Eighteenth Century thinkers extended our conception of critical thought even further, developing our sense of the power of critical thought and of its tools. Applied to the problem of economics, it produced Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. In the same year, applied to the traditional concept of loyalty to the king, it produced the Declaration of Independence. Applied to reason itself, it produced Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

In the 19th Century, critical thought was extended even further into the domain of human social life by Comte and Spencer. Applied to the problems of capitalism, it produced the searching social and economic critique of Karl Marx. Applied to the history of human culture and the basis of biological life, it led to Darwin’s Descent of Man. Applied to the unconscious mind, it is reflected in the works of Sigmund Freud. Applied to cultures, it led to the establishment of the field of Anthropological studies. Applied to language, it led to the field of Linguistics and to many deep probings of the functions of symbols and language in human life.

In the 20th Century, our understanding of the power and nature of critical thinking has emerged in increasingly more explicit formulations. In 1906, William Graham Sumner published a land-breaking study of the foundations of sociology and anthropology,Folkways, in which he documented the tendency of the human mind to think sociocentrically and the parallel tendency for schools to serve the (uncritical) function of social indoctrination :

"Schools make persons all on one pattern, orthodoxy. School education, unless it is regulated by the best knowledge and good sense, will produce men and women who are all of one pattern, as if turned in a lathe. An orthodoxy is produced in regard to all the great doctrines of life. It consists of the most worn and commonplace opinions which are common in the masses. The popular opinions always contain broad fallacies, half-truths, and glib generalizations (p. 630).

At the same time, Sumner recognized the deep need for critical thinking in life and in education:

"Criticism is the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not. The critical faculty is a product of education and training. It is a mental habit and power. It is a prime condition of human welfare that men and women should be trained in it. It is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, and misapprehension of ourselves and our earthly circumstances. Education is good just so far as it produces well-developed critical faculty. A teacher of any subject who insists on accuracy and a rational control of all processes and methods, and who holds everything open to unlimited verification and revision, is cultivating that method as a habit in the pupils. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded. They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens” (pp. 632, 633).

John Dewey agreed. From his work, we have increased our sense of the pragmatic basis of human thought (its instrumental nature), and especially its grounding in actual human purposes, goals, and objectives. From the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein we have increased our awareness not only of the importance of concepts in human thought, but also of the need to analyze concepts and assess their power and limitations. From the work of Piaget, we have increased our awareness of the egocentric and sociocentric tendencies of human thought and of the special need to develop critical thought which is able to reason within multiple standpoints, and to be raised to the level of "conscious realization." From the massive contribution of all the "hard" sciences, we have learned the power of information and the importance of gathering information with great care and precision, and with sensitivity to its potential inaccuracy, distortion, or misuse. From the contribution of depth-psychology, we have learned how easily the human mind is self-deceived, how easily it unconsciously constructs illusions and delusions, how easily it rationalizes and stereotypes, projects and scapegoats.

To sum up, the tools and resources of the critical thinker have been vastly increased in virtue of the history of critical thought. Hundreds of thinkers have contributed to its development. Each major discipline has made some contribution to critical thought. Yet for most educational purposes, it is the summing up of base-line common denominators for critical thinking that is most important. Let us consider now that summation.

The Common Denominators of Critical Thinking Are the Most Important By-products of the History of Critical Thinking

We now recognize that critical thinking, by its very nature, requires, for example, the systematic monitoring of thought; that thinking, to be critical, must not be accepted at face value but must be analyzed and assessed for its clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, and logicalness. We now recognize that critical thinking, by its very nature, requires, for example, the recognition that all reasoning occurs within points of view and frames of reference; that all reasoning proceeds from some goals and objectives, has an informational base; that all data when used in reasoning must be interpreted, that interpretation involves concepts; that concepts entail assumptions, and that all basic inferences in thought have implications. We now recognize that each of these dimensions of thinking need to be monitored and that problems of thinking can occur in any of them.

The result of the collective contribution of the history of critical thought is that the basic questions of Socrates can now be much more powerfully and focally framed and used. In every domain of human thought, and within every use of reasoning within any domain, it is now possible to question:

  • ends and objectives,
  • the status and wording of questions,
  • the sources of information and fact,
  • the method and quality of information collection,
  • the mode of judgment and reasoning used,
  • the concepts that make that reasoning possible,
  • the assumptions that underlie concepts in use,
  • the implications that follow from their use, and
  • the point of view or frame of reference within which reasoning takes place.

In other words, questioning that focuses on these fundamentals of thought and reasoning are now baseline in critical thinking. It is beyond question that intellectual errors or mistakes can occur in any of these dimensions, and that students need to be fluent in talking about these structures and standards.

Independent of the subject studied, students need to be able to articulate thinking about thinking that reflects basic command of the intellectual dimensions of thought:  "Let’s see, what is the most fundamental issue here? From what point of view should I approach this problem? Does it make sense for me to assume this? From these data may I infer this? What is implied in this graph? What is the fundamental concept here? Is this consistent with that? What makes this question complex? How could I check the accuracy of these data? If this is so, what else is implied? Is this a credible source of information? Etc." (For more information on the basic elements of thought and basic intellectual criteria and standards, see Appendices C and D).

With intellectual language such as this in the foreground, students can now be taught at least minimal critical thinking moves within any subject field. What is more, there is no reason in principle that students cannot take the basic tools of critical thought which they learn in one domain of study and extend it (with appropriate adjustments) to all the other domains and subjects which they study. For example, having questioned the wording of a problem in math, I am more likely to question the wording of a problem in the other subjects I study.

As a result of the fact that students can learn these generalizable critical thinking moves, they need not be taught history simply as a body of facts to memorize; they can now be taught history as historical reasoning. Classes can be designed so that students learn to think historically and develop skills and abilities essential to historical thought. Math can be taught so that the emphasis is on mathematical reasoning. Students can learn to think geographically, economically, biologically, chemically, in courses within these disciplines. In principle, then, all students can be taught so that they learn how to bring the basic tools of disciplined reasoning into every subject they study. Unfortunately, it is apparent, given the results of this study, that we are very far from this ideal state of affairs. We now turn to the fundamental concepts and principles tested in standardized critical thinking tests.

{ Taken from the California Teacher Preparation for Instruction in Critical Thinking: Research Findings and Policy Recommendations: State of California, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Sacramento, CA, March 1997. Principal authors: Richard Paul, Linda Elder, and Ted Bartell }

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