Why not ‘Critical’ ?

I have a pathological hatred of the phrase ‘critical thinking’. Educationalists bandy around the phrase, but if you ever ask anyone what they mean by it they tend to say ‘I know it when I see it’, and think that by putting the words ‘Critically evaluate’ at the beginning of essay titles they are addressing it fully. Understandably students have very little idea of what we mean by ‘critical thinking’ either.

Having reviewed the ‘critical thinking’ literature (not something I’d recommend to anyone), I’d suggest that psychology has quite enough material from it’s own empirical tradition to adress the aims of ‘critical thinking’ without ever having to venture into the confusion of a literature driven mainly by philosophers.

So my approach comes very much from a cognitive tradition and tries to draw on our own 40+ year literature of how people think. I never use the phrase ‘critical thinking’ with students, and ironic only ever utter it with academics, so they will know what I’m talking about

One Response to “Why not ‘Critical’ ?”

  1. The Politicoid February 14, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    A recent story (The Paracas Skulls), or more accurately the wholesale swallowing of it, has infuriated me, so I felt the need to write a post on basic critical (sorry, rational) thinking skills. Check it out on Politicoid, if you like…

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