Critical Thinking Guide

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Seeing a window of opportunity for a discussion about the merits of the various airport facilities and maybe airports with a fellow worldly traveller I enquired tearing my eyes from a ‘traditional’ Moroccan rug twice the size of my house in Oxford “Oh? ”Subjective experience, such as I feel this when x happens or I feel y about this building or work of art is valid for matters of taste; however using that as your sole evidence for your opinion on a universal statement of fact doesn’t exactly invite much discussion or exploration.

Indeed, beyond asking why again, there isn’t much one can do to evaluate whether the opinion is valid and is one you can ascribe to or try to refute with a better argument.

I did okay with my strategy of writing as much stuff down as possible and then rehearsing it just before the exams.

When I got to my masters the same scenario started to play out.

Therefore what we think is correct now, people in 50 or 100 years time will think is pretty rudimentary or even wrong” and In effect, what the students were describing is that all knowledge is an argument or a hypothesis or an opinion based on the best evidence at the moment.

And the best evidence at the moment is the evidence that is both valid and reliable in the context of the argument or opinion it is being used in.I don’t normally do the organised trip thing but the casbah in Marrakesh was a bit overwhelming, so I thought we would do a guided tour first to get some form of orientation before tackling it ourselves.The trip included a ‘traditional’ Morrocan lunch, oddly in a carpet and souvenir warehouse, the owner of which was referred to as ‘uncle’ by the tour guide, but it could just have been a misinterpretation on my behalf as my Arabic is somewhat rudimentary.What he discovered was that when the vast majority of students typically arrive at college they think the rules of the formal learning game (at school, university or indeed any classroom) is to memorise ‘stuff’.This short term memorisation drives not just a lot of ‘learning’ but many teachers/trainers/lecturers also think this is what it is about.But what does it mean and why is there so little of it?There is a famous incident in our family where we were on holiday in Morocco.Anyway, we were all sat at tables with little flags for the various nations so that we could sit with people from our home countries.(Just why I would want to fly over two thousand miles to a different country full of interesting cultural and intellectual artcafacts and customs to sit and talk with people from ‘back home’ eludes me.)So, sitting opposite another family waiting for our traditional Moroccan lunch, wondering if traditional Moroccans (whoever they are) sit around a table with a little Moroccan flag to have lunch, we quickly ascertained where the family opposite were from.If you have had the privilege of going to university you will have been extolled to engage in critical thinking.Many organisations have critical thinking in their competency frameworks and it is a phrase banded about a lot in professional circles.


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