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On Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a disciplined activity. It is not something we can acquire without intensive study and practice, nor can we isolate it from knowledge. Knowledge is foundational to provide the structure to do deep thinking.

Only with some background knowledge, can we apply the skills of critical thinking to problems and texts, understand the strengths and weaknesses of arguments, and offer creative solutions.

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On Critical Thinking

On Critical Thinking

https://hedgehogreview.com/blog/thr/posts/on-critical-thinking

hedgehogreview.com

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Key Ideas

Critical thinkers need the knowledge first

Employers need critical thinkers, but they cannot find them.

Focussing on knowledge only in college does not seem to help. Neither does it help to only focus on intellectual and cognitive skills.

Critical thinking is learning how to use knowledge.

The focus of skills over knowledge

Considering the K-12 system, we see that the emphasis on skills over content has changed the curriculum. Students increasingly focus on learning skills, but they may not learn too much history or science.

Critical thinking is not enough on its own. It needs to be used to gain insight from studying meaningful subject matter, like history or economics or physics or chemistry.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a disciplined activity. It is not something we can acquire without intensive study and practice, nor can we isolate it from knowledge. Knowledge is foundational to provide the structure to do deep thinking.

Only with some background knowledge, can we apply the skills of critical thinking to problems and texts, understand the strengths and weaknesses of arguments, and offer creative solutions.

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Six levels of critical thinkers

Six levels of critical thinkers

Researchers identified six predictable levels of critical thinkers:

  • The unreflective thinker
  • The challenged thinker
  • The beginner thinker
  • The practicing think...

The Unreflective Thinker

These are people who don't reflect on thinking nor consider the consequences of not thinking. Their prejudices and misconceptions lead them.

They do not consistently apply standards like accuracy, relevance, precision, and logic.

The Challenged Thinker

People at this intellectual stage are aware of the importance of thinking and know that the lack of thinking can result in major issues.

  • They acknowledge that their own mental processes might have many flaws but are unable to identify all the weaknesses.
  • They may spot some instances of their own self-deception.
  • They may have a sense that proper thinking involves navigating assumptions, inferences, and points of view, but only on a basic level.

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The real master has no tools, only a limitless capacity to improvise with what is to hand. The more fields of knowledge he/she covers, the greater his/her resources for improvisation.

‘Nothing tends to materialise man, and to deprive his work of the faintest trace of mind, more than extreme division of labour.’

- Alexis de Tocquevill

‘Nothing tends to materialise man, and to deprive his work of the faintest trace of mind, more than extreme division of labour.’

- Alexis de Tocquevill

Invention fights specialisation at every turn

To come up with new ideas, you need to know things outside your field. The further afield your knowledge extends, the greater potential you have for innovation.

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