Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Critical Thinking: Promoting It in the Classroom

The ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills published an ERIC Digest in 1989. It was titled Critical Thinking: Promoting It in the Classroom. It was written by M. Carrol Tama. Although a bit dated, it still seems relevent today for K-12 and higher education teachers.

From the site:

The NCTE Committee on Critical Thinking and the Language Arts defines critical thinking as "a process which stresses an attitude of suspended judgment, incorporates logical inquiry and problem solving, and leads to an evaluative decision or action." In a new monograph copublished by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills, Siegel and Carey (1989) emphasize the roles of signs, reflection, and skepticism in this process.

Ennis (1987) suggests that "critical thinking is reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do." However defined, critical thinking refers to a way of reasoning that demands adequate support for one's beliefs and an unwillingness to be persuaded unless the support is forthcoming.

Why should we be concerned about critical thinking in our classrooms? Obviously, we want to educate citizens whose decisions and choices will be based on careful, critical thinking. Maintaining the right of free choice itself may depend on the ability to think clearly. Yet, we have been bombarded with a series of national reports which claim that "Johnny can't think" (Mullis, 1983; Gardner, 1983; Action for Excellence, 1983). All of them call for schools to guide students in developing the higher level thinking skills necessary for an informed society.

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