9 Putting it all together
We have covered a wide range of aspects of thinking, particularly those concerned with clear and critical thinking. At this stage, you may find it useful to consider how ideas like these can be put together in ways that will help you when you engage in activities such as reading, writing, speaking and listening. Here is a checklist to use when making judgements about things that you hear, see and experience.
Who is speaking or writing?
What is their point of view or perspective?
What ideas and information are presented and how were they obtained?
Are there unsupported assertions?
Are reasons or evidence provided?
Are the reasons and evidence given relevant?
Is the method used to find the evidence sound?
Is the evidence correct or valid?
What assumptions have been made?
What is fact and what is opinion?
What are the implicit and explicit values?
Are there unreasonable generalisations?
What has been omitted?
How was the conclusion reached?
Is the conclusion reasonable?
What other perspectives or points of view could there be?
You may be able to think of more points to add to this list.
Find an opportunity in your daily life today for exercising your thinking skills using the checklist above. For example, you could consider an advertising claim, a problem, or what party to vote for in an election.
An example might be an advertising claim such as 'speak French in only three hours'. You might ask who has made the claim and what is the evidence that you can achieve any mastery of French in three hours? What does speaking French mean? Do they mean fluent French? Would it seem realistic to have a useful working knowledge in this time? The reality is that you might learn some French but probably not enough to get around on holiday.
You can look out for material to stimulate thought in this way in newspapers, magazines and on the television and radio.
These last two activities will help you to continue developing your thinking skills.
Make an action plan outlining the actions you are going to take to develop your thinking skills … what you are going to do … how … by when?
Try keeping a study log with a focus on thinking skills. As you do this, make time to pause and reflect on what you have written. Consider what new skills you have developed, what has improved, what was really difficult and what you might focus on in the future.