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If there is no problem there is no point in thinking critically. Thinking our way through a problem to a solution, then, is critical thinking, not something else.Furthermore, critical thinking, because it involves our working out afresh our own thinking on a subject, and because our own thinking is always a unique product of our self-structured experience, ideas, and reasoning, is intrinsically a new "creation", a new "making", a new set of cognitive and affective structures of some kind.If you are familiar with any thinking skills programs, ask someone knowledgeable about it the "Where's the beef? Namely, "What intellectual standards does the program articulate and teach?
Hence, even though a student may just be asserting things, not reasoning things out at all, if she is doing so with vivacity and flamboyance, teachers are apt to take this to be equivalent to good reasoning.
This was made clear in a recent California state-wide writing assessment in which teachers and testers applauded a student essay, which they said illustrated "exceptional achievement" in reasoned evaluation, an essay that contained no reasoning at all, that was nothing more than one subjective reaction after another.
All of us can engage in small talk, can share gossip.
And we don't require any intricate skills to do that fairly well.
The present level of instruction for thinking is very low indeed.
Question: But there are many areas of concern in instruction, not just one, not just critical thinking, but communication skills, problem solving, creative thinking, collaborative learning, self-esteem, and so forth.The "making" and the "testing of that making" are intimately interconnected.In critical thinking we make and shape ideas and experiences so that they may be used to structure and solve problems, frame decisions, and, as the case may be, effectively communicate with others.In this interview for Think magazine (April ’’92), Richard Paul provides a quick overview of critical thinking and the issues surrounding it: defining it, common mistakes in assessing it, its relation to communication skills, self-esteem, collaborative learning, motivation, curiosity, job skills for the future, national standards, and assessment strategies.Paul: First, since critical thinking can be defined in a number of different ways consistent with each other, we should not put a lot of weight on any one definition. With this qualification in mind, here is a bit of scaffolding: critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.If we are trying to foster quality thinking, we don't want students simply to assert things; we want them to try to reason things out on the basis of evidence and good reasons.Often, teachers are unclear about this basic difference.Two things are crucial: 1) critical thinking is not just thinking, but thinking which entails self-improvement 2) this improvement comes from skill in using standards by which one appropriately assesses thinking.To put it briefly, it is self-improvement (in thinking) through standards (that assess thinking).The result was, by the way, that a flagrantly mis-graded student essay was showcased nationally (in ASCD's Paul: I don't think so.Let me suggest a way in which you could begin to test my contention.