The Last Word
Thinking is like loving and dying: Each must do it for him (her) self.
You may find that this is your favorite chapter because it is essentially a blank chapter. As you worked your way through this book, you learned information that should help you to become a better thinker. This is especially true if you also worked your way through the exercises, questions, and reviews in the Exercise Book that accompanies this text. Each chapter dealt primarily with one type of thinking category. This was necessary because a large block of information needed to be broken down so that it could be presented in manageable units. Unfortunately, thinking doesn't break into neat and separate categories and mixed sorts of skills are needed in most situations. Memory must always be accessed, the type of representation and the words we use will influence how we think, evidence always needs to be considered, thinking must be logical, and so on. As you go through life, you will need to use all of the skills that you practiced and improved upon in each of the chapters. But, most importantly, you need to adopt the attitudes and dispositions of a critical thinker. You need to find problems that others have missed, support conclusions with good evidence, and work persistently on a host of problems. I hope that your encounters with this book will help you become a better thinker.
This is also a good time to step back and reflect on the definition of critical thinking that was presented in the first chapter and the broad categories of information and strategies in the following chapters. Does the working definition of critical thinking seem like it captured the multiple dimensions of complexity that are inherent in critical thinking? Can you and will you use some of the thinking skills in your own life—to make decisions, read about and plan research, understand the structure of a written passage, think creatively, remember more effectively, and more? Are you more likely to have a desirable outcome because of something that you learned? Have you adopted at least some of the attitudes of a critical thinker?