Stephen Haggerty is a 2011 recipient of Eastern Kentucky University’s Critical Thinking Teacher of the year award. The award is given to recognize “outstanding faculty members who have had an effect on developing their students’ critical/creative thinking skills.” (Read more about the award at Think EKU.)
In this two-part interview I discuss critical thinking with Stephen Haggerty.
What is the primary goal of critical thinking?
If I am a critical thinker, I am thinking things through before making choices. In other words, a fundamental goal of critical thinking is to be able to consider multiple perspectives before deciding to act upon information, a person’s request, or even something like buying car or a house.
A critical thinker in school will be more successful. A critical thinker in a job will be more successful. A critical thinker in a relationship will be more successful and have greater satisfaction. If I engage myself in reflective, purposeful thinking, I am going to make more informed choices about life. That to me is the goal of critical and creative thinking. It’s not just something we do in higher education…it’s something we should all engage in everyday in life.
Could you recommend some resources that can help someone learn more about critical thinking?
At Eastern Kentucky University, I utilize the Paul and Elder model of Critical Thinking (www.criticalthinking.org) as well as Bloom’s Taxonomy inside and outside of the classroom. I am a Quality Enhancement Program (www.qep.eku.edu) Coach for the University, so I am also involved with training faculty and non-faculty professionals on critical and creative thinking and effective communication. We use the Paul and Elder (2009) model quite often. I also would highly recommend Dr. Gerry Nosich’s book Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across The Curriculum (2009). Here are two more that look very interesting:
At what age should children start to learn about critical thinking?
My son is three years old and my stepdaughter is nine years old, and we talk to them about choices. We talk about good choices and bad choices, and we talk about what happens after either one of those choices. In other words, we discuss the Elements of Thought with them, and we identify these elements by name (like “consequences” or “point of view”). I think the earlier the better because the more we teach our children how to think things through, the more informed, critical and creative thinkers they become in school and in life. Furthermore, I think we miss the boat if we don’t teach them how to also be creative thinkers who communicate effectively. I believe the more information we can share with children about critical and creative thinking and effective communication, the better!
Part two of our discussion is coming soon!