For example, one of the major programs asks teachers to encourage students to make inferences and use analogies, but is silent about how to teach students to assess the inferences they make and the strengths and weaknesses of the analogies they use. The idea is not to help students to make more inferences but to make sound ones, not to help students to come up with more analogies but with more useful and insightful ones. The State Department in Hawaii has just such a long-term, quality, critical thinking program (see "mentor program"). In addition, the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction is focused precisely on the articulation of standards for thinking.
I am hopeful that eventually, through efforts such as these, we can move from the superficial to the substantial in fostering quality student thinking.
How are districts to deal with the full array of needs?
How are they to do all of these rather than simply one, no matter how important that one may be? Everything essential to education supports everything else essential to education.
The making, shaping, testing, structuring, solving, and communicating are not different activities of a fragmented mind but the same seamless whole viewed from different perspectives.
Paul: Some communication is surface communication, trivial communication--surface and trivial communication don't really require education.
If we are trying to foster quality thinking, we don't want students simply to assert things; we want them to try to reason things out on the basis of evidence and good reasons.
Often, teachers are unclear about this basic difference.
If there is no problem there is no point in thinking critically. Thinking our way through a problem to a solution, then, is critical thinking, not something else.
Furthermore, critical thinking, because it involves our working out afresh our own thinking on a subject, and because our own thinking is always a unique product of our self-structured experience, ideas, and reasoning, is intrinsically a new "creation", a new "making", a new set of cognitive and affective structures of some kind.