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Liberated from a kind of slavery.
But from whom? From professors.
Actually from dependence on professors so that they no longer stand as infallible authorities delivering opinions beyond our capacity to challenge, question and dissent.
In fact, this is exactly what the professors want.
They want us to excel on our own, to go beyond what is presently known,
to make our own contributions to skill and to society.
Being a professor is a nosey job —
the more effective they are as teachers,
the less their students require their aid in learning.
Table of Contents
WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?
Before beginning a critical thinking essay it’s a good idea to come up to speed on critical thinking and what it is. The process of thinking critically commences with an open mind. It’s fairly alright to already have an opinion on an issue but you must be willing to at least consider objectively ideas that differ from your own.
Someone who tends to think critically would very likely agree with statements like the following.
o I hate talk shows where people shout their opinions but never give any reasons at all.
o Figuring out what people indeed mean by what they say is significant to me.
o I always do better in jobs where I’m expected to think things out for myself.
o I hold off making decisions until I have thought through my options.
o Rather than relying on someone else’s ideas, I choose to read the material myself.
o I attempt to see the merit in another’s opinion, even if I reject it later.
o Even if a problem is tougher than I expected, I will keep working on it.
o Making intelligent decisions is more significant than winning arguments.
A person who does NOT tend to think critically would be more likely to agree with the following.
o I choose jobs where the supervisor says exactly what to do and exactly how to do it.
o No matter how complicated the problem, you can bet there will be a plain solution.
o I don’t waste time looking things up.
o I hate when teachers discuss problems instead of just providing the answers.
o If my belief is truly veritable, evidence to the contrary is irrelevant.
o Selling an idea is like selling cars, you say whatever works.
Read Peter Facione’s Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts. especially pages 4-6. [It’s a PDF and explosions leisurely.]
Developing the capability to think critically can be difficult because it is lighter to make hasty judgments based on opinions and biases than it is to evaluate facts and arguments. For example, your friends might think that the death penalty is just, and you might also think so just because your friends do. Without hearing any arguments to the contrary, your viewpoint, based solely on the opinions of others, would be feeble.
The approaches to life and living which characterize critical thinking include the following.
o inquisitiveness with regard to a broad range of issues
o concern to become and remain well-informed
o alertness to opportunities to use critical thinking
o trust in the processes of reasoned inquiry
o self-confidence in one’s own abilities to reason
o open-mindedness regarding divergent world views
o plasticity in considering alternatives and opinions
o understanding of the opinions of other people
o fair-mindedness in appraising reasoning
o honesty in facing one’s own biases, prejudices, stereotypes or egocentric tendencies
o prudence in suspending, making or altering judgments
o readiness to reconsider and revise views where fair reflection suggests that switch is warranted
The best way to develop critical thinking is to write. Writing coerces you to organize your thoughts, contemplate your topic, evaluate your data in a logical style and present your conclusions in a persuasive manner. Good writing is the epitome of good critical thinking. Writing promotes critical thinking by requiring you to acquire, synthesize and logically analyze information, and then present this information and your conclusions in written form.
WHAT IS A CRITICAL THINKING ESSAY?
Many college assignments require you to support a thesis. The concept of a critical thinking essay is that you commence without an end in mind. You don’t necessarily know how you feel about a subject or what you want to say about the subject … you permit the research and your own thinking to determine the outcome. This is writing to learn rather than writing to prove what you know.
The critical thinking essay has you look at and contribute to a range of arguments rather than just one at a time. Critical thinking essays consider the strengths and weaknesses of various solutions to a problem or various answers to a question. It requires thinking. not information reporting.
The critical thinking essay starts with a question, not a thesis. Your essay shows how your thinking switches as you research a topic. For example, when you begin researching capital penalty, you may be in favor of the death penalty because it is a deterrent. Then you may find some studies that question whether it has a deterrent effect and that may influence your thinking. You don’t have to know what you think about your topic when you commence writing your critical thinking essay.
CRITICAL THINKING ESSAY FORMAT
Essays are shorter lumps of writing. Therefore, essays are (by nature) concise and require you to be clear and to the point. This means that there is no room for your thoughts to wander or stray … you must be deliberate and stay on topic.
Perhaps it is helpful to think of an essay in terms of a conversation or debate with a classmate. If you and I were discussing whether or not there should be a death penalty in the US, there would be a beginning, middle and end to our conversation. As with a conversation, your essay must be accomplish, and logically so, leaving no doubt as to your intent or argument. However – again, think of this as a conversation – your essay shouldn’t be formal. Recall, you’re talking about your ideas and thought processes. don’t attempt to do that in third person!
To help you stay on topic, your critical thinking essay should be organized in keeping with the outline below.
Introduction (1-2 paragraphs)
Concentrate on explaining the topic.
Figure (minimum of Three paragraphs but use as many as necessary. several brief paragraphs are better than 1-2 overly long paragraphs)
Write your figure before your write your introduction and conclusion.
Examine all aspects of the topic. Display your skill and seize of the material you have read.
Discuss the differing opinions of the topic as reflected in the research.
Discuss any issues or problems.
Did you have enough information?
Did the research raise issues you hadn’t considered?
Did the research contain confusing, incomplete or contradictory information?
Explain how your research influenced your thinking.
If your thinking has switched, what switched it?
If your thinking has not switched, how did what you learned support your original opinion?
If you’re not sure about your opinion, what information might you need to form an opinion?
Conclusion (generally 1 paragraph)
The conclusion rounds off the essay.
Refer back to your main ideas or points and reiterate your reaction to the question.
NEVER introduce fresh information in your conclusion.
The conclusion moves from specific to general.