Critical Thinking... Easier Said than Done


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The focus of this class is to alter our views of the world, specifically in science. Math and science are two subjects, which seem to have set out rules that are confirmed and then believed to be true. We have learned this is not true, science is constantly changing and hypotheses thought to be true have been proved otherwise.

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            To teach this train of thought is a task in itself and may not even be possible for some students. When talking about our blogs, Andrew constantly reminds us to provide more than one source. He urges us to understand the sources we use rather than regurgitate them in a blog. This is a crucial part of critical thinking which is the most difficult to grasp. Our minds tend to see the "surface" of a problem or topic and look at it from that surface perspective. Critical thinking requires deeper thought in a sense of looking at the posed issue from as many perspectives as possible. This type of thinking tests our minds to relate subjects and solutions together that don't necessarily relate to each other at first glance.

            It is one thing to teach our brains how to solve a problem, recognize patterns, memorize and store information, but it is another obstacle to actually teach our brains a certain way of thinking.

            Take this blog post for example, going off of what I've presented to you so far, it seems there are two sides to critical thinking. I am arguing that it cannot be taught, so the alternative would be that it in fact can be taught. That is the "surface" idea that we all can understand easily. What we fail to think of are the millions of other possibilities in which critical thinking can occur. Here's just a couple you might be forgetting... Is it genetically passed down from your parents? Is it subconsciously learned from your environment? Is there a certain age when it will click in our heads? Does gender play a role in our ability to think critically?

            The list goes on and on. The process and understanding of the null and alternative hypotheses, confounding variables, and possibilities of chance are key factors in the practice of critical thought. The null and alternative hypothesis allow us to see the two initial sides of an issue whereas confounding variables and chance allow us to take into account other possibilities we would not consider initially.

            I can also point out, the domain knowledge required to think critically about an issue needs to be overflowing. To think deeply into a subject, we must obtain the utmost information about that subject and have the will to search for more information. If someone doesn't care about an issue, why would he/she continue to research it? Or question the existing knowledge about the subject?

Thinking critically is a type of thought that can generate ideas and knowledge society would never imagine, but is it something that can be taught?

 

2 Comments

I found myself wondering the same thing after I read Andrew's comments on my last blogging period. According to the University of Phoenix, it is possible to teach critical thinking but in order to do so, the person being taught must already possess a certain level of cognitive and intellectual thinking. Additionally, critical thinking is not taught through standard lessons but is brought forth through the induction of a "new mental lifestyle or habit." Critical thinking can not be passively learned, students must actively look at things in deeper and more contextualized ways. Though the University of Phoenix provides an insightful look at critical thinking, it leaves us with an important question. What about the people that do not prepossess high levels of intellectual and cognitive thinking? Is this group doomed to never be able to think critically?
For the University of Phoenix article visit: http://www.phoenix.edu/colleges_divisions/humanities/articles/2011/03/can-critical-thinking-be-taught-in-the-classroom.html

Thanks Daniel, so glad I could generate at least one comment on this blog post! I actually talked to Andrew about the post and he said this is a question he asks himself constantly. He made a good point saying that science might be one of the best subjects to teach critical thinking. Especially the studies and topics he chooses to teach us. At first I really questioned why we were discussing things like why wormy kids are stupid and if smoking is bad for you. Now I realize the concepts he taught along with these subjects were easier to understand in these contexts. I'm still unsure as to if I completely understand critical thought, but I'm starting to catch a glimpse of it in this class. I'm finding it's not something that's limited to science, but it's harder for me to apply it to other subjects. For a communications major like myself I feel it's a crucial skill for me to learn when dealing with media sources.

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