Critical Thinking

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ANIS 1006—Handout for “Critical Thinking” Assignment October 20, 2014 Excerpts from An Introduction to Critical Thinking by Steven D. Schafersman, January 1991. Purpose and Rationale of Critical Thinking The purpose of specifically teaching critical thinking in the sciences or any other discipline is to improve the thinking skills of students and thus better prepare them to succeed in the world. But, you may ask, don’t we automatically teach critical thinking when we teach our subjects, especially mathematics and science, the two disciplines which supposedly epitomize correct and logical thinking? The answer, sadly, is often no. Please consider these two quotations; “H is strange that we expect students to learn, yet seldom teach them anything about learning.” Donald Norman, I p80, “Cognitive Engineering and Education,” in Problem Solving and Education: Issues hi Teaching and Research, edited by D.T. Tune and F. Reich, Erlbaurn Publishers. “We should be teaching students how to think, instead, we are teaching them ;t’har to think.” Clement and Lochhead, 1980, Cognitive Process Instruction. Definition of Critical Thinking Critical thinking is the ability to think for one’s self and reliably and responsibly make those decisions that affect one’s life. Critical thinking is also critical inquiry, so such critical thinkers investigate problems, ask questions, pose new answers that challenge the status quo, discover new information that can be used for good or ill, question authorities and traditional beliefs, challenge received dogmas and doctrines, and often end up possessing power in society greater than their numbers. It may be that a workable society or culture can tolerate only a small number of critical thinkers, that learning, internalizing, and practicing scientific and critical thinking is discouraged. Most people are followers of authority: most do not question, are not curious, and do not challenge authority figures who claim specific knowledge or insight….

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