Critical Thinking Standards

So we may need to broaden our own thinking as well as “their” thinking.

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The nonprofit Foundation for Critical Thinking cultivates core intellectual virtues that lead to fair-minded thinking.

Critical thinking skills don’t fully develop until adolescence, but the foundations for good thinking develop in younger children.

The goal is to think more clearly and fairmindedly.

It’s also about epistemology: how do we know what we know?

Good critical thinking requires having a command of these standards.

According to Paul and Elder (1997 ,2006), the ultimate goal is for the standards of reasoning to become infused in all thinking so as to become the guide to better and better reasoning.But it’s useful to review these standards occasionally to remember how they fit together.I also like to review the questions from time to time so they’re on the tip of my tongue when I get into an argument.At the same time, our own thoughts may not be accurate.So, we need external reference points that can help us validate accuracy.Note: Most books on critical thinking would present some variation of this material.Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them. The Paul-Elder framework has three components: According to Paul and Elder (1997), there are two essential dimensions of thinking that students need to master in order to learn how to upgrade their thinking.For instance, lung cancer may have multiple causes (all of which are relevant) but smoking is probably the cause that is most significant.All of this may seem like “structured common sense” and in a way it is.I teach a course in critical thinking and friends sometimes ask, “Well, what does that mean?” Essentially, it’s a process of thinking about thinking in a structured, systematic way.


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