Educational intervention has been shown experimentally to improve them, particularly when it includes dialogue, anchored instruction, and mentoring.
Controversies have arisen over the generalizability of critical thinking across domains, over alleged bias in critical thinking theories and instruction, and over the relationship of critical thinking to other types of thinking.
The thinker works with their own thinking tools–schema. After this kind of survey and analysis you can come to evaluate it–bring to bear your own distinctive cognition on the thing so that you can point out flaws, underscore bias, emphasize merit—to get inside the mind of the author, designer, creator, or clockmaker and critique his work. This historian that has contextualized this historical movement in a series of documents and artifacts that now deserve contextualization of their own.
To think critically requires you to aggregate knowledge, form some kind of understanding, get inside the mind of the clockmaker, judge their work, and then articulate it all for a specific form (e.g., argumentative essay) and audience (e.g., teacher). It’s easy for teachers to see the role of critical thinking in a more macro process.
Of course, critical thinking without knowledge is embarrassingly idle, like a farmer without a field. They can also disappear into one another as they work.
Once we’ve established that—that they’re separate, capable of merging, and need one another—we can get at the marrow and fear of this whole thing.
Its definition is contested, but the competing definitions can be understood as differing conceptions of the same basic concept: careful thinking directed to a goal.
Conceptions differ with respect to the scope of such thinking, the type of goal, the criteria and norms for thinking carefully, and the thinking components on which they focus.
More than definition and clarification, we need contextualization–to look around the term as we use it and see when and how it’s used, and what kind of reaction it elicits when that happens.
Here, there’s a lot to look at: how to teach it, how to assess it, what role it plays in the learning process, how to use it in misleading school mission statements, how to casually drop it in classroom walkthroughs or walkthrough documents (in a way that implies says that critical thinking is: “Critical thinking is that mode of thinking — about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it.