Think For Yourself (8-1) - The Critical Thinking Community

Understanding Thinking as the
Key to Content
Think For Yourself (8-1):
Understanding content as something
to be thought through.
Selecting a subject which is the focus of a class
you are now teaching, make a list of the
questions that professionals within the discipline
would pursue, questions they would try to think
through in order to figure out important matters
in the field. You may want to look through the
first chapter of the class textbook, which should
provide an overview of the purpose of the
discipline, and key questions thinkers within the
discipline traditionally ask. You might also read
through the relevant entry in an encyclopedia to
identify these key questions.
Think For Yourself (8-2):
Identifying the meaning of key concepts
Take the most basic concept that is the focus of one of your classes.
Write out your understanding of the concept. Write it out in such a
way that you can readily see the significance of the concept to
some aspect of life. For example, if you teach history, you should
highlight the role that historical thinking plays in human life.
Every human lives within a self-constructed inner history. That
history is used everyday to make decisions. For example, if in your
“reading” of your past, you were always poor in writing or math,
you would probably now seek to avoid writing or math. Or again,
all of your plans for the future are a result of what seems possible
and probable to you--given your understanding of your past.
Understood in this way, there could be no more important study
than that which enables us to do better historical thinking. Now
write out your understanding of the most fundamental concept in
one or more courses.
Think for yourself (8-3):
Seeing connections between
concepts within a subject
Focusing on a subject you currently teach draw a
diagram which shows links between the most basic
concepts within the subject. Then state words how
each idea is linked to every other idea. In other
words, your thinking will be something like this: In
order to understand "a," you must understand "b," and
in order to understand "b," you must understand "c,"
and in order to understand "c," you must understand
"d," etc. Elaborate each idea as you go so that you
can see the connections between them.
Think for yourself (8-4):
Focusing on questions implied
by the structures of thought
Choose a subject in a class you now teach. Complete the
following sentences and elaborate your answer as much as
possible (give details).
1) The purpose of this subject is .....
2) The main types of information that professionals in this
field of study use are.....
(this might be research studies-in Psychology for example,
events from the past- in History for example, information
about the universe - in Astronomy for example)
3) Some of the main questions that professionals within
this discipline ask are...