Friday, May 15, 2015

#135 / Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is critically important! In fact, most colleges require that critical thinking be taught to every student in some form. Taking that critical thinking course is a graduation requirement. My wife, who has taught college students for more than twenty-five years, has let me see her favorite book on the topic: Becoming A Critical Thinker - A User Friendly Manual. I liked the book. 

The illustration, above, isn't from the book; it's from a website maintained by someone who seems to be an escapee from the Scientology cult. Anette Iren Johansen thinks critical thinking might have saved her from a long detour in her life, a detour that she calls "my bridge to ruin."

It is easy to assume that "critical" thinking requires that we be "critical" of others, that we not let ourselves be taken in, and that we debunk their (quite likely erroneous) ideas. There is something to that, of course, but I have another perspective to present. Not to denigrate the importance of being a "critic," that quality of empathy I mentioned in my last couple of blog postings has a big part to play in critical thinking. At least, that's what I would like to suggest.

Effective critical thinking requires, the way I see it, that we be somewhat "critical" of our own assumptions, and it is "empathy," not "criticism" that may be our greatest help in getting there. 

I was pleased to see, in that book my wife recommended, the following statement, attributed to Arthur Costa, in his article, "Teaching For Intelligence":

Some psychologists believe that the ability to listen to another person, to empathize with, and to understand their point of view is one of the highest forms of intelligent behavior.

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1 comment:

  1. False dichotomy! You can (and should) have empathy for the person making an argument while expressing criticism of that argument.


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