I’m taking a course I’ve wanted to take for a long time – through the Foundation for Critical Thinking This is the first week and so far we’ve explored definitions of CT and also processes by which a person can systematically think critically.
The second course in the sequence – offered in SP is the application piece – how to embed CT into courses. Very excited about it all…
THe interface is terribly frustrating though – technology not working – broken links, SLOW website… but the work is rewarding so far – Journal post and then discussion. I’ve had 2 a-ha’s already!
1) How skilled/honed are our own thinking processes???? A big a-ha for me already is the realization that the acquisition of content knowledge does NOT necessarily mean the acquisition of critical thinking skills… sadly
2) Working through the process of understanding the logic of a thing, applying the elements of thought and asking the associated questions – in my example – teaching grammar – was enlightening and reminded me of the importance of EXPLICITLY letting students know the underlying assumptions of why we teach the things we do, why they need to know it… and how to approach their thinking on a given topic. As novices in an area, they need some guidance in how to approach things.
Here is one sample:
What is the purpose of studying grammar in this course? (to get control over and improve our writing, to help students get good grades in other courses, to help student writing adhere to an academic standard in certain contexts)
What kinds of questions do you/will we have about grammar? (what are the rules of grammar, what are the exceptions to those rules, and when are the exceptions applied)
What sort of information do we need? (grammar rules, examples, exercises, feedback)
What experience do you already have with grammar? (what are your weak and strong areas?)
What is the most basic concept that you need to understand about how grammar works? (grammar rules put order to how words and ideas are expressed)
From what point of view should we approach the issue? (Understanding that there are different standards of language use depending on the context in which they are used. In your academic work, you should adhere to academic standards of language use which we’ll study in this course. We will use the grammar of Standard English)
What can we safely assume as we reason through the topic of grammar? (it is possible to learn the rules and apply them to our own writing. Professors expect students to use Standard English and use proper grammar in their assignments, correspondence, and interactions in class. No matter what level of grammar facility you have now, you can improve.)
What inferences can we call into question? (perhaps one of the biggest inferences might be that Standard American English is the ONLY proper use. Context and identity play large roles. Another inference might be the expected time frame to achieve the standard – For English Language Learners (ELLs), this can take many years, especially for academic language development. Lastly, the assumption that underlies this notion should be challenged: that just because someone learns a rule, they should also be able to apply it in every situation. This just isn’t the case.)
What are the implications for successfully studying grammar? Better grades, ability to express thoughts more clearly to a wider audience, support for expressing thinking more clearly.
the Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools: CT “is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it” (pg. 2)
the Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Reasoning : “ thinking is best understood and improved when we are able to analyze and assess it EXPLICITLY” (pg. 4)
Introduction to Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life: CT 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.” (pg. xxii) As I read, I found this further interesting explanation; CT involves analysis, evaluation AND creativity (in the reconstructing process) (pg. xxiv)
Additionally, this text describes 2 parts to CT: analysis and assessment. I particularly thought it was useful to think about this in the terms described on pg. xxii, “Critical Thinking is the way you do everything you do.”