Thinking About Critical Thinking

This morning I was cleaning off my book case when I came across a small book that I forgot that I had: Guide to Critical Thinking by Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Richard Paul. I will have to tell you this book was very good. I learned some new ways to help students think critically.


One aspect that I loved from this book was it’s Intellectual Standards (page 10).

  • Be Clear: Can you state what you mean? Can you give examples?
  • Be Accurate: Are you sure it’s true?
  • Be Relevant: Is it related to what we are thinking about?
  • Be Logical: Does it all fit together?
  • Be Fair: Am I considering how my behavior might make others feel?
  • Be Reasonable: Have we thought through this problem thoroughly and with an open mind?

The other aspect that I took away from this book was Parts of Thinking (page 20).

  • Purpose of our thinking
  • Questions we are trying to answer
  • Information needed to answer the question
  • Inferences or conclusions we are coming to
  • Concepts or key ideas we are using in our thinking
  • Assumptions we are taking for granted
  • Implications and consequences of our thinking
  • Points of view we need to consider.

Connected to this line of thinking a part of this book that I took away is the it is important to go over the differences between assumptions and inferences. As I talk to my students I know they get these two mixed up. Inferences are conclusions that you come up with after going through all the data of a situation. Assumption is an unconscious thoughts that are usually hidden in our minds. Students need to know the differences.

finally the last part of this book that really hit me was the fact there are three different types of thinkers. Which one are you? Which ones are your students?

The Naive Thinker: The person who doesn’t care about, or isn’t aware of his or her thinking. Naive thinkers don’t develop their minds. They don’t want to be bothered with improving their critical thinking skills.

The Selfish Critical Thinker: The person who is good at thinking but unfair to others. Selfish critical thinkers are people who use their thinking to get what they want without thinking about how their actions affect others.

The Fair-minded Critical Thinker: The person who is not only good at thinking, but also fair to others. The fair-minded critical thinkers work to improve their thinking skills. They think to become better at making the world a better place, and they want to be fair to others.

Do you see yourself in one of the three critical thinking personalities?


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