Hence, critical thinking is not a set of skills separable from excellence in communication, problem solving, creative thinking, or collaborative learning, nor is it indifferent to one's sense of self-worth. We think critically when we have at least one problem to solve.One is not doing good critical thinking, therefore, if one is not solving any problems. There is no way to solve problems effectively unless one thinks critically about the nature of the problems and of how to go about solving them.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.
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.
Hence, even though a student may just be asserting things, not reasoning things out at all, if she is doing so with vivacity and flamboyance, teachers are apt to take this to be equivalent to good reasoning.
This was made clear in a recent California state-wide writing assessment in which teachers and testers applauded a student essay, which they said illustrated "exceptional achievement" in reasoned evaluation, an essay that contained no reasoning at all, that was nothing more than one subjective reaction after another.
And then when you explain what you mean, I think you will find that the person is not able to articulate any such standards.
Thinking skills programs without intellectual standards are tailor-made for mis-instruction. Only with quality long-term staff development that helps the teachers, over an extended period of time, over years not months, to work on their own thinking and come to terms with what intellectual standards are, why they are essential, and how to teach for them.(See "The assessing teachers and testers did not notice that the student failed to respond to the directions, did not support his judgment with reasons and evidence, did not consider possible criteria on which to base his judgment, did not analyze the subject in the light of the criteria, and did not select evidence that clearly supported his judgment.Instead the student: The assessing teachers were apparently not clear enough about the nature of evaluative reasoning or the basic notions of criteria, evidence, reasons, and well-supported judgment to notice the discrepancy.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.All of us can engage in small talk, can share gossip.And we don't require any intricate skills to do that fairly well.Many teachers are apt to take student writing or speech which is fluent and witty or glib and amusing as good thinking.They are often unclear about the constituents of good reasoning.If you are familiar with any thinking skills programs, ask someone knowledgeable about it the "Where's the beef? Namely, "What intellectual standards does the program articulate and teach?" I think you will first find that the person is puzzled about what you mean.