Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Reflective Thought, Critical Thinking. This is an essay which looks at the concept of reflective thought and how it impacts critical thinking. I think it has applications for library instruction.

From the site:

This digest concerns itself with the origin of reflective thought, the application of theories about reflective thought to classrooms, conflicts and issues, and a synthesis of the essential ideas.


The concept "reflective thought" was introduced by John Dewey in 1910 in his "How We Think", a work designed for teachers. Dewey admitted a debt to both his contemporaries in philosophy, William James, and Charles S. Peirce. Dewey's most basic assumption was that learning improves to the degree that it arises out of the process of reflection. As time went on, terminology concerning reflection proliferated, spawning a host of synonyms, such as "critical thinking," "problem solving," and " higher level thought."


Dewey's definition of reflective thinking repeated over the years was:

"Active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends". (Dewey, 1933)
However, other researchers added to this definition and modified it. Thus,

"The purpose of Socratic Seminars is to enlarge understanding of ideas, issues, and values. The intent is to create dialogue that gives voice to rigorous thinking about possible meaning... Seminars are structured to take the student thought from the unclear to the clear, from the unreasoned to the reasoned. . . from the unexamined to the examined." (Lambright, 1995)

Many other definitions exist, but what all have in common is conviction. Some are of a more generalized nature, such as the two above. Others assume that true reflective thinking can only be derived from the application of the various intellectual disciplines.

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