(I'm assuming that this is a novel thought for most of you), you'll start to generate
several options. You'll probably have to cross an ocean, which means deciding between
a plane or boat of some sort, and then travel by train and/or car, and then travel by
foot and/or animal (which one?). Of course, you'll probably need a guide. And what
are the vaccination requirements for someone traveling to Tibet? Oh yes, will you need
a visa? I think you've gotten the idea by now that traveling to a Himalayan mountain
top is a lot like other quests for knowledge. It will take time and careful planning. By
contrast, your trip to visit your surfer friend will be easier and cheaper. Some problems
are like that.
4. Have You Reached Your Goal?
I've taught statistics for nearly 10 years now. I must have asked students if they've
checked their work as often as I've said my name. A concern with accuracy is probably
the biggest predictor of success. Does your solution make sense? Did you get to your
mountaintop in Tibet or are you on an anthill in Iowa? Was your goal the right one or
should it really have been "where shall I travel this summer?" If it really should have
been the latter goal, then you can forget Tibet and consider Paris or Japan or the rugged
beauty of Newfoundland. What have you learned on the way that you can use again?
A Skills Approach
Critical thinking skills are those strategies for finding ways to reach a goal. Of course,
dividing the thinking process, which is fluid and continuous, into discrete skills is
somewhat artificial, but it is necessary to break the massive topic of critical thinking
into manageable pieces. Although I have divided the topic of critical thinking into
several chapters, each of which focuses on a different type of problem (e.g., reasoning,
analyzing arguments, testing hypotheses, making decisions, estimating likelihoods),
these problems are not easily separable in real life. You will often need to estimate
likelihoods when making a decision or generate possible solutions in a reasoning task.
The division is necessary for teaching and learning and is not meant to imply that
critical thinking can be cut into neat packages.The use of skills is a convenient way of learning about good thinking, even if it seems
to simplify the complexities in thinking. The actual skills and ways to evaluate and
generate them are presented in the subsequent chapters. This is what critical thinking
instruction is all about.Critical thinking instruction is predicated on two assumptions: (a) that there are
clearly identifiable and definable thinking skills that students can be taught to recognize and apply appropriately, and (b) if recognized and applied, students will be more
effective thinkers. Intellectual skills, like physical skills, require specific instruction,
practice in a variety of contexts, feedback, and time to develop. So, please get comfortable, prepare for some hard work, and enjoy this book.
|1. ||It is imperative that citizens of the 20th and 21st centuries think critically, yet
recent tests have shown that only 25% of first-year college students have the skills
needed for logical thought. The need for critical thinking skills has been identified as
a national and international priority.|