Thinking critically

Jarold Jarche, adapting to perpetual beta, Dec 13, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

"Critical thinking," writes Harold Jarche, "can be looked at as four main activities:

  • Observing and studying our fields
  • Participating in professional communities
  • Building tentative opinions
  • Challenging and evaluating ideas."

Here's a better model. Critical thinking can be looked at as the following activities:

  • Observing and studying our fields
    • detecting patterns, similarities and regularities
    • aligning with truth, value and purpose
    • perceiving potential uses and applications
    • noting contexts, frames, alternatives
    • defining terms, drawing conclusions, explaining, describing
    • accounting for change, trends, growth or cycles
  • Participating and sharing in professional communities

Long-time readers will recognize the centre as the critical literacies. Yes, observing and sharing are important, and we (quite rightly) spend a lot of time on this. But it's to easy to simply elide over what, exactly, we mean by challenging ideas and forming opinions. Literacy means knowing not just about these, but knowing how to do these, and knowing what they consist of.

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