Is reasoning the basis of knowledge and learning?

Good to have a video explaining the reasons behind seasons.

I have reflected on reasoning in “Is mass education the solution to future education?”:

However, it seems that graduates would answer the questions based on the pre-conceived concepts they probably might have learnt through textbooks, or taught by their teachers sometime in schools, and so would answer with great confidence, on what they believe to be right.  This probably is the result of learning where the learners would not have spent time in further checking of the source of evidence and information.  This way of learning has probably led to the wrong beliefs, and concepts formed by the students.

In my previous post on critical thinking:

Critical thinking refers to a higher level of thinking which is guided by knowledge and evidence.  Reason and evidence is fundamental in such thinking process.  Reasoning needs to be based on sound logic.  Such critical thinking would also need to be guided by reasoning and  evidence collected, analysed and evaluated.

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Critical Thinking

I am interested in this post and post on critical thinking.

Is critical thinking a skill?  Can one teach critical thinking?

Stephen has delivered the course on Critical Literacies MOOC in the past.  He says: reasoning skills do not change from discipline to discipline. Here’s Stephen’s response.

Stephen responds in his comments:

Critical thinking cuts a wide swatch across all disciplines. Just like with mathematics, the principles of critical thinking do not change from one domain to the next.

Alex says here

The last bullet….suggests that logical argumentation and reason are not absolutes but are instead ideological products of the relations “among language, knowledge and power.” This is a familiar view to anyone with experience in critical theory, postmodernism, cultural studies, etc. This view would suggest that the evaluative processes supported by logical argumentation and reason are not critical at all, or at least are not sufficient.

He further comments:

As for commercial interests in critical thinking, obviously there’s a criticalthinking.com. There are courses like this one: http://www.mhprofessional.com/…. And there are many, many tests. All of this hinges on a common curriculum and concept of critical thinking.

To reiterate, I don’t have a problem with this content being taught. I disagree with its claims toward universality, but I’m fine with people teaching things I disagree with. I can tell you that what is described here and in “critical thinking” textbooks is not what people in English mean when they say critical thinking. They mean something that is connected to ideological critique and would not be universalist.

There are a few questions that I would like to explore and reflect:

1. Do principles of critical thinking change from one domain to the next?

2. Are logical argumentation and reason absolutes?  Are they ideological productions of the relations among language, knowledge and power?

3. Is critical thinking connected to ideological critique and would not be universalist?

I have shared here on logic and reasoning, and here on critical thinking.

1. Do principles of critical thinking change from one domain to the next?

First, what is critical thinking?

Robert H. Ennis, Author of The Cornell Critical Thinking Tests
“Critical thinking is reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe and do.”

Assuming that critical thinking is reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do, a critical thinker:

1. Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives
2. Tries to be well-informed
3. Judges well the credibility of sources
4. Identifies conclusions, reasons, and assumptions
5. Judges well the quality of an argument, including the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions, and evidence
6. Can well develop and defend a reasonable position
7. Asks appropriate clarifying questions
8. Formulates plausible hypotheses; plans experiments well
9. Defines terms in a way appropriate for the context
10. Draws conclusions when warranted, but with caution
11. Integrates all items in this list when deciding what to believe or do

What are the principles of critical thinking?

  1. Knowledge is acquired only through thinking, reasoning, and questioning. Knowledge is based on facts.
  2. It is only from learning how to think that you learn what to think.
  3. Critical thinking is an organized and systematic process used to judge the effectiveness of an argument.
  4. Critical thinking is a search for meaning.
  5. Critical thinking is a skill that can be learned.

Do the above principles hold true and won’t change from one domain to the next? 

We might have to examine each of the principles and verify if they are reflective of realities.

1. Is knowledge acquired ONLY through thinking, reasoning, and questioning? Is knowledge based on facts?

2. Is it true that you learn what to think only from learning how to think?

3. Is critical thinking an organized and systematic process used to judge the effectiveness of an argument?

4. is critical thinking a search for meaning?

5. Is critical thinking a skill that can be learnt?

Critical thinking refers to a higher level of thinking which is guided by knowledge and evidence.  Reason and evidence is fundamental in such thinking process.  Reasoning needs to be based on sound logic.  Such critical thinking would also need to be guided by reasoning and  evidence collected, analysed and evaluated.

Critical thinking is then a way to support intellectual independence.

Critical thinking requires:

Intellectual discipline

Clear expression of ideas

Acceptance of personal responsibility for our own thinking.

Based on the above arguments, I would agree with principles 3, 4, and 5 on critical thinking.

On principle 1, we might have to define what we mean by “facts” before we could establish that knowledge is based on facts.

On principle 2, we might have to understand and apply how to think about a subject discipline based on the context.

I think that is the crucial point between the arguments presented by Stephen and Alex.

From what I could interpret from Alex’s argument, critical thinking has been translated to mean close reading and comprehension in English reading, and it is important that for the learners to understand and interpret the relations “among language, knowledge and power”  in order to critically analyse the author’s intention in writing, and the reasoning in academic writings and discourse.

Would such way of “critical thinking” be different when viewed in the lens of different disciplines or domain – in Biology, Physics, Engineering?  I think it depends on the context.  Critical thinking may be an absolute “construct” but would be interpreted quite differently by scientists, artists and philosophers, mainly because of the differences in their way of interpreting the world.

I think if the principle 2 is agreed upon by experts of different domains, then there could be possibility of coming into some common “ways” and principles of critical thinking.

I think critical thinking is a skill that can be learnt, but then whether it can be taught is still moot.

I would continue to explore the following questions in subsequent posts:

2. Are logical argumentation and reason absolutes?  Are they ideological productions of the relations among language, knowledge and power?

3. Is critical thinking connected to ideological critique and would not be universalist?

eduMOOC & MOOC Critical Thinking Re-visited for Present and Future on-line Learning

Resources on Critical Thinking

I enjoyed reading this Critical Thinking.  A summary on the characteristics of Strong Critical Thinkers is especially helpful.

This Critical Thinking video summarizes the essence of critical thinking

Critical Thinking

Slides on Critical Thinking

Application of Critical Thinking

Zaid’s slides on Introduction to Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking in Distance Education

Ruth’s post on Self as Locus of Learning

How to develop critical thinking skills in online courses?

#CritLit2010 Is leadership all about relationships and emotions?

While I was pondering about what to write in my Power of Story Part 2, I was stimulated by this post of matters of the heart referred by Stephen Downes in his OLDaily

I pulled these from Fullan’s new book, Motion Leadership (2010).

1. We must recognize the politics of emotions that energize behaviors.

2. The change strategy cannot create victims.

3. The problem must be named and confronted.

4. Leaders must exemplify the expected standards of behavior.

5. We must engage emotionally with students in their world.

6. Teachers and principals themselves are sometimes actors.

7. The environment must accommodate risk. (Jansen, 2009b, p.189)

I would like to know the basis behind these “principles of leadership”, and here I am posting my comments and questions:

1. What are the politics of emotions?  What are those emotions that energize behaviors? What is the relationship between leadership and behaviorism?

2. The change strategy cannot create victims.  Is this an oxymoron? Every change strategy creates winners, in accordance to leadership.  Otherwise, who would follow?  But who are the victims, who are the losers?  The strategy CANNOT create victims, but it CAN create winners and victims.  History tells us that there is no guarantee of no victims created out of any change strategy.  But great leaders do change the world

Were those leaders crazy? REALLY? Who changed the world? They were the great leaders, the real leaders who walk the talk.

3. Why must the problem be named and confronted? Are problems well-defined?  In whose names are those problems named? Who name the problems? In a leadership situation, is the leader the first to name the problem? Or the last?

4. Leaders must exemplify the expected standards of behavior – wow, that is the tribal approach, sure! The tribal leader would determine what standards of behavior would be praised, rewarded, amplified, or show as an exemplary to all followers, or would declare such behaviors as the heroic action in the tribal manifestation.  Magnificent motto!

5. We must engage emotionally with students in their world – wow! Are leaders emotional counselors or “manipulators” of their students?  Of course students are emotional humans, just like their teachers.  So what is the role of the teacher in their students’ emotional journey?

6. Teachers and principals themselves are sometimes actors.  What sort of actors?  Why? How to act?

7. The environment must accommodate risk. What sort of risks should be accommodated?  How about internet safety?

This one?

or this?

and this one?

Are we (both educators and students) safe in a virtual online environment?

I then read on about this site on distance educator where Saba would separate facts from fiction

My question: Really? How?

This stimulated me to reflect back on the Critical Thinking Skills needed, this time on leadership.

Is leadership all about relationship and emotions? How about critical thinking in leadership? No?

#CritLit2010 Reflection in response to a reflection

This is my response to Ruth’s reflection post.
I like your reflection, full of emotions, revealing the other side of “critical thinking” – the empathy that are equally important to thrive in this era of education and business. I resonate with your feeling: “However I don’t feel very empowered when I am engaged with someone who practices Glasser’s powers of reasoning. The only place I can go with gut feelings is into more feeling and that doesn’t sway another’s mind to empathy. I wonder if minds like to meet minds, emotions like to meet emotions and bodies, other bodies?”
When I learnt about logic, reasoning etc. in my Logic in Maths, in college and University, I didn’t see how it could be reasoned in real life, may be it was too “simplistic”.  Even now, I understand that individual’s logic would often have to give way to the collective wisdom (the team approach) – as we continue to focus more on the vision, mission and use of “objective evidence” which are held as the golden “rules” of institutions.
Leadership, or management are on the other hand, still filled with emotions rather than logic, mainly because that leadership is more about relations, intuition, and not just logical deductions. We all talk about being ambassadors of our institutions, and promoting and projecting a positive image to the community, to the global audience.  Why? Is it an emotional response to our call of “local” and “global” citizenship?  What sort of evidence would we need to prove ourselves to be a good citizen?  Is it critical thinking?  Or is it a result of emotional intelligence?
This trend of emphasising emotions over reason is especially the case when “scientific management” once promoted by Frederick Taylor was once sentenced to be inhumanistic, and are further reflected on the current economic crisis and the recent “meltdown” due mainly to illogical and irrational decision, with greed spreading throughout those businesses. So, what does it mean when we think with logic, evidence and good reasons individually?  Are our individual values in line with our aspirations, our community or our “world”?

From Flickr

CCK09 Do you sit or stand when presenting online?

1. Simple questions, but very important for us! I think.

Do you sit down/stand up when conducting an online (Elluminate/UStream) session? Unless you are presenting in an f2f/online conference, I bet you will sit down to do so 100%, correct? Do you sit down/stand up when conducting F2F facilitation/teaching session? Unless it is an activity, I bet you will stand up when explaining a topic.

2. Which one is better for your thinking? Sitting down/standing up when presenting online? For me, I sit down in front of the computer 100%, and so do my thinking 100% when sitting down. How about you? Have you thought about any difference in your thinking when sitting down/standing up?
 3. By standing up, you will get tired/become fatigued within a shorter time than sitting down, is that part of the reason when doing online session (by sitting down) is better? Are there any research done on this? There should be!  But it sounds “common sense”, right?

 

CCK09 New ways of thinking

Enjoy this.

We all think differently even when presented with the same picture, same pattern, do we?

I am not a psychologist, and I know nothing about it..

May be that’s why connectivism could be perceived and interpreted differently by each of us, especially when it comes to connective knowledge, it is emergence upon interaction, and these relate to complex learning concepts which are fluid, and morphing.

water falls