Critical thinking is not criticism

A learning outcome of every college class reads something like- “to enhance critical thinking”.  Without definition and actual teaching of critical thinking, students will actually not learn to think critically using the tools of the subject or within that subject.  Just looking at any on-line review (or teacher evaluation) too many of us are experts at criticism, but miserable at critical thinking.

Critical thinking doesn’t imply we have a judgmental attitude — it implies the ability to use logic to evaluate and measure the value of an idea.  This means developing their intellectual and emotional muscles, pushing past the fog created by our emotional bias or protective instinct. The best way to develop these skills is through honest conversations.  Honest conversations require us to be open to the view point of others.  To be open to the viewpoint of others, we need to want to understand.  We must assume that their point of view is true and logical to them, and our goal is to truly understand their reasoning, not just their words in light of your reasoning.  That is just pure criticism.

Jonathan Shaver