These three facts, taken together, represent serious obstacles to essential, long-term institutional change, for only when administrative and faculty leaders grasp the nature, implications, and power of a robust concept of critical thinking — as well as gain insight into the negative implications of its absence — are they able to orchestrate effective professional development.
When faculty have a vague notion of critical thinking, or reduce it to a single-discipline model (as in teaching critical thinking through a “logic” or a “study skills” paradigm), it impedes their ability to identify ineffective, or develop more effective, teaching practices.
Learning to think historically becomes the order of the day.
Students learn historical content by thinking historically about historical questions and problems.
We forget this when we design instruction as though recall were equivalent to knowledge.
Every discipline — mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, and so on — is a mode of thinking.It prevents them from making the essential connections (both within subjects and across them), connections that give order and substance to teaching and learning.This paper highlights the depth of the problem and its solution — a comprehensive, substantive concept of critical thinking fostered across the curriculum.They recognize, for example, what it is to interpret the American Revolution from a British as well as a colonial perspective.They role-play different historical perspectives and master content through in-depth historical thought. They discuss how their own stored-up interpretations of their own lives’ events shaped their responses to the present and their plans for the future.We know science, not when we can recall sentences from our science textbooks, but when we can think scientifically.We understand sociology only when we can think sociologically, history only when we can think historically, and philosophy only when we can think philosophically.As long as we rest content with a fuzzy concept of critical thinking or an overly narrow one, we will not be able to effectively teach for it.Consequently, students will continue to leave our colleges without the intellectual skills necessary for reasoning through complex issues.They learn through their own thinking and classroom discussion that history is not a simple recounting of past events, but also an interpretation of events selected by and written from someone’s point of view.In recognizing that each historian writes from a point of view, students begin to identify and assess points of view leading to various historical interpretations.