“Critical thinking is a term used to refer to those kinds of mental activity that are clear, precise, and purposeful. It is typically associated with solving complex real world problems, generating multiple (or creative) solutions to a problem, drawing inferences, synthesizing and integrating information, distinguishing between fact and opinion, or estimating potential outcomes, but it can also refer to the process of evaluating the quality of one’s own thinking.” (Source)
Critical Thinking: Analyzing the Message
Critical thinking is active, reasoned thinking that focuses more on the relative strength of an argument, as opposed to whether an argument is right or wrong (complex issues rarely fit into one box or another or another. Put it all together drawing from many sources rooted in your own experience). Consider the following guide:
“Who Benefits?” Questions:
(Used without permission: Prof. S. Rowley, York University, 2000)
1. Who defines reality here?
2. Whose reality is being represented here?
3. Who/what is absent/disappeared, marginalized or set in opposition?
4. What are the core assumptions?
5. What is Nature and “natural” here?
6. What is human?
7. Who benefits from this telling?
8. At what/whose expense?
9. How/Could this story be told otherwise?
10. How do the absent/disappeared/marginalized define themselves?
11. How does this relate to my own experiences?
12. How/Does this move me to change my thinking/acting/world?
Critical Thinking Links:
What You Can’t Say – Always ask questions
College Students are so Gullible
News Evaluation: Thinking Critically about Media – Great resource. Pearson College
Concept Mapping How-To – Getting ideas on paper
Critical Reading Strategies
Critical Thinking on The Web – a directory of quality online resources. Includes tutorials in argument mapping, a core requirement for advanced critical thinking.