Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools Book Review

Total Length: 1259 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

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Page 1 of 4

Part One: Main Ideas and Insights

Critical thinking does not necessarily come naturally to people, who are subject to biases and prejudicial assumptions. According to Paul & Elder (2016), critical thinking can be learned and mastered. Critical thinking is essential for improving quality of life and promoting best practices in any field. With critical thinking, a person actively seeks answers and solutions to problems, probing multiple points of view and perspectives. Therefore, critical thinking requires open-mindedness and strong communication skills. Critical thinking also requires time and self-discipline, including the painstaking gathering of data, information, and evidence, and picking apart each issue using systematic methods. Rather than being reactive or subjective, critical thinking involves thorough analyses and assessments, with problem solving as its primary goal. Critical thinking is clear, accurate, significant, and ultimately, fair.

According to Paul & Elder (2016), all thought involves the same eight elements including point of view, problems or questions, implications or consequences, purpose or goals, assumptions, information, concepts or theories, and interpretations. Based on these eight elements of thought, the authors also provide a checklist readers can use to gauge critical thinking and improve critical thinking skills. For example, all reasoning should have a purpose or goal that can be communicated clearly, and which is also relevant and realistic. All questions should ideally be sub-divided into smaller issues for simplification and clarification, and to avoid complications. The critical thinker should also cultivate sufficient self-awareness to identify biases and assumptions in thought patterns, acknowledge points of view and potential alternative ways of looking at the subject. Critical thinkers also support their analyses with appropriate data and evidence, guided by established and articulate theoretical orientations. The conclusions of critical thought should also lead to solutions, with all implications taken into account.

Paul & Elder (2016) also claim that there are universal standards of critical thought that can be applied to any scenario, regardless of constraints like culture, age, or religion.

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The standards of intellectual rigor that guide critical thinking include clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, and fairness. These criteria can be applied to verbal or written arguments, encouraging discursive practices. Then, the authors present a list of essential intellectual traits shared in common by critical thinkers. Those traits include humility, courage, empathy, autonomy, integrity, perseverance, reason, and fair-mindedness. The templates or checklists for critical thinking can and should be applied to any material a student or reader encounters, holding all material up to high levels of scrutiny. Doing so helps improve the tenor of academic discussions and promotes a culture of active intellectual inquiry and fairness.

Impediments to critical thinking include various types of egocentrism, which lead to logical fallacies. For example, egocentric thinking leads to the belief that something is true simply because one wants it to be true, or because their social circle claims it to be true. Aligning one’s thinking according to one’s social group or culture—known as sociocentric thinking—also impedes critical thinking. The authors urge readers to help promote a critical society—a society in which critical thinking is normative. To promote a critical society, critical thinking has to be consistently taught and ingrained. Paul & Elder (2016) therefore offer several concise and specific insights into the nature of critical thinking, including how it can be identified and cultivated. Likewise, the authors offer cogent solutions that help readers to understand how to replace egocentric and sociocentric thinking with critical thinking.

Part Two: Conclusions

1. Where do you think you are in terms of critical thinking?

I value critical thinking but can see that I can still learn how to apply critical thinking to more areas of my life. After reading the Paul & Elder (2016) text, I can see where I fall….....

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Paul, R. & Elder, L. (2016). Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools.

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