Value Of Critical Thinking In Your Chosen Profession

Value Of Critical Thinking In Your Chosen Profession

















































This website contains over 200 pages of writing on the Socratic method and Socratic philosophy. It is a product of over thirty years of research and experimentation with the Socratic method, including regular dialogue between the two authors, and fourteen years work in the field of curriculum development.
Click the "How to" link for a summary of research focused on:


Introduction to the Socratic Method
and its Effect on Critical Thinking

by Max Maxwell
All Rights Reserved.

PART I: Introduction to the Socratic Method

The Socratic method is one of the most famous, least used, and least understood teaching and conversation practices. The Socratic method of questioning is named after the Greek philosopher Socrates (469 BC–399 BC), who lived in Athens Greece. His father was Sophroniscus. a stone cutter, and his mother was Phaenarete. a midwife. His mother’s profession of midwife is how Socrates’ would later characterize his own profession. Socrates believed that the highest benefit of his art was to help people do their own thinking in a way that lead to the birth of their own new ideas. In Socratic dialogues, the primary focus is on the original thinking of the respondent as they try to answer Socrates’ questions. A new idea, once it was delivered through Socrates philosophical midwife practice of limiting himself to asking questions, was then examined to determine if the idea is a "false phantom or an instinct with life and truth" (Theaetetus ). This examination involved Socrates asking more questions, which help the respondents think critically about their previous answers.

The subjects of Socrates’ conversations often revolved around defining ideas such as, justice, virtue, beauty, courage, temperance, and friendship. The search for a definition focused on the true nature of the subject under question and not just on how the word is used correctly in a sentence. Socrates style of conversation involved his own denial of knowledge (Socratic irony). In these conversations, Socrates became the student and made those he questioned the teacher. Socrates rejected any attempts to pass off another person’s ideas or the beliefs of the majority as truth. Socrates was not interested in the talk of others. He only wanted to focus on the respondents own thinking. Through the respondent’s process of answering Socrates’ questions, they experienced their own original thinking in the context of examining their own ideas and themselves. The brilliance of the Socratic method is in the character developing power it has through the exercise of a person’s love of asking and answering questions in the pursuit of knowledge.

The Socratic method, with its focus on a person’s original and critical thinking in the context of life’s important questions, is foundational to human moral development. Vlastos and Graham offer an important insight into the value of the Socratic method:

"Why rank that method among the great achievements of humanity? Because it makes moral inquiry a common human enterprise, open to everyone. Its practice calls for no adherence to a philosophical system, or mastery of a specialized technique, or acquisition of a technical vocabulary. It calls for common sense and common speech. And this is as it should be, for how a human being should live is everyone’s business." [1]

In the first sentence in this essay, I said that the Socratic method is not commonly understood and used. This seems to be contradicted by the quote from Vlastos and Graham. It is the purpose of the research on this website to make the powerful truth of the Vlastos and Graham quote a commonly accessible, living reality for anyone wanting to actually use the Socratic method. If actually using the Socratic method is your interest, the fastest way to access the ideas on this website is my essay "How to Use the Socratic Method " at the top of this page. That essay serves as a conceptual site map to over 200 pages of my writing on this topic.

Socratic Method Definitions:

What is the Socratic method? A single, consistent definition of the Socratic method is not possible due to the diversity with which ‘the method’ has been used in history. There are many styles of question oriented dialogue that claim the name Socratic method. However, just asking a lot of questions does not automatically constitute a use of the Socratic method. Even in the dialogues of Plato, which are the most significant and detailed historical references to Socrates, there is not just one Socratic method. The exact style and methodology of the Platonic Socrates changes significantly throughout the dialogues. If there is a ‘classic’ Socratic method, this designation must refer to the style of the Socratic method found primarily in the early dialogues (also called the ‘Socratic Dialogues’) and some other dialogues of Plato. In these dialogues, Socrates claims to have no knowledge of even the most fundamental principles, such as justice, holiness, friendship or virtue. In the Socratic dialogues, Socrates only wants short answers that address very specific points and refuses to move on to more advanced or complicated topics until an adequate understanding of basic principles is achieved. This means that the conversation is often stuck in the attempt to answer what appears to be an unanswerable basic question. This image of Socrates’ conversations, with their typical failure to find an answer, is the most widely recognized portrait of Socrates and his method. In the dialogues of Plato, the portrayal of Socrates and his method were diverse and ranged from the portrait of Socrates in the early dialogues to a richer diversity of conversational styles and ideas in latter dialogues. This diversity in the dialogues was so great that Plato even decided to drop both Socrates and his method in some of his writing. In a later Platonic dialogue ‘The Laws’, there is still conversation but Socrates is replaced with ‘the stranger’ and his method is gone as well. Socrates and his method are most vividly seen in the early and middle dialogues.

A Definition of the Classic Socratic Method:

The Classic Socratic method uses creative questioning to dismantle and discard preexisting ideas and thereby allows the respondent to rethink the primary question under discussion (such as ‘What is virtue?’). This deconstructive style of the Socratic method is ‘Socratic’ precisely to the extent that the weight of the actual deconstruction of a definition rests in the respondent’s own answers to more questions, which refute the respondent’s previously stated answer to the primary question. The result of the Classic Socratic method is, by definition, a failure to find a satisfactory answer to the primary question in a conversation. This failure produces a realization of ignorance in the respondent (Socratic Effect) which can, it is hoped, inspire the respondent to dig deep and think about the question with a new freedom that is obtained from discarding a previously held belief. If a satisfactory answer is found, this represents a transition to the ‘Modern Socratic method.’

The ultimate goal of the Socratic method is to increase understanding through inquiry. Obtaining an enhanced freedom to think through discarding preexisting bad ideas is the penultimate goal of the classic style of the Socratic method. The only person who cannot think is the one who thinks she already knows. Through the deconstruction of existing ideas, the classic style of the Socratic method frees people to think about basic principles and ideas with an enhanced sense of necessity and clarity. In this style of the Socratic method, for example, there is no point in getting deeply into complicated theories of particular applications of justice in society until one can answer a much simpler question like, “What is justice?” In this case, the Classic Socratic method functions to tear down existing ideas of justice. This works by exposing unknown or unacknowledged ambiguity and complexity, which makes the respondent realize she has more thinking to do. The ‘Socratic Effect’ provides the respondent with the opportunity to rethink justice, or whatever other quality or idea is in focus, after having their previously existing ideas discarded with their full agreement on the basis of their own answers to questions. This classic style of the Socratic method is described in detail below and is referred to as the ‘Two-Phase Freestyle.’ The classic style of the Socratic method is notoriously difficult to achieve in real conversation. It is impossible to not notice that Plato had the benefit of being able to write the answers as well as the questions. The full dynamics of how Socrates was able to handle the wide diversity of possible responses to his questions is lost to history. The high level of difficulty in using the Classic Socratic method explains why this style is almost never used. This difficulty of usage gave rise to the popularity of what I call the ‘Modern Socratic method.’

A Definition of the Modern Socratic Method:

The Modern Socratic method is a process of questioning used to successfully lead a person to knowledge through small steps. This knowledge can be specific data, training in approaches to problem solving, or leading one to embrace a specific belief. The type of knowledge is not as important as the fact that, with the Modern Socratic method, the knowledge gained is specifically anticipated by the Socratic questioner. This stands in contrast to the Classic Socratic method in which the actual outcomes are unknown by all parties.

The modern style is not deconstructive, but constructive. This is the most widely used style today because it is the easiest to employ. It is much easier to lead a person, by baby steps, to specific knowledge through a series of questions than it is to force a person to abandon a cherished idea and rethink an important or controversial issue just by asking creative questions. The Modern Socratic method is not called modern because it was invented recently, but because it is the most popular usage in modern times. The Modern Socratic method has historical precedent in the dialogues of Plato. The most famous example is the geometry experiment with the slave boy in a dialogue called Meno. The Modern Socratic method is discussed below and is referred to as ‘The Constructive Agenda’ style of the Socratic method.

The "Socratic Method" in Law School

Although there is nothing genuinely Socratic about the violently contentious law school version of the method, the fact that a law student’s exposure to this very intense type of questioning will often break her down and force her to dig deep and perform better does have something of the flavor of the Classic Socratic Method. The purpose of this style of questioning in law school is to prepare students for the extremely rough environment of courtroom litigation. Even though the law school form has the flavor of the deconstructive nature of the Classic Socratic Method (see "The Deconstructive Phase" below), the actual structure of Socratic Dialogue and the nurturing gentleness, which was characteristic of Socrates and his method, are absent. The law school form of their so called "Socratic method" is not what will be discussed in my writings, nor is it appropriate in most educational contexts. If you want to see a balanced presentation of law student’s reactions to the “Socratic Method” used in law school, check out this video .

If you wish to support this Website’s mission to educate, see the MISSION STATEMENT PAGE .

Two Styles of of the Socratic Method

In spite of their differences, both styles of the Socratic method have some common aspects. Both can inspire people to increase their love of good questions. Both can draw people into a more thoughtful mode of thinking. The Modern Socratic method can be used to good effect for leading a person to work out their own understanding of static knowledge such as mathematics. The Classic Socratic method is a profoundly useful tool to facilitate improvements in critical thinking and to elevate the quality of human discourse regarding difficult and controversial issues. A contemporary example of the Classic Socratic method is the dialogue, The Moral Bankruptcy of Faith. where the Classic Socratic method is used to demonstrate the necessity of caution when making overly broad statements about morality. The more difficult, ambiguous or controversial the issue, the more powerful the usefulness of the Classic Socratic method will be in our conversations. This is because the need to think critically increases with the complexity and ambiguity of the issue or problem under discussion. Although some commonly shared level of problem solving and evaluative ability, which sometimes passes for critical thinking is used in our daily lives, the full and rich depth of the human capacity to think critically is much greater than ordinarily realized. Many people’s ability to think with some measure of critical quality serves them fine in solving some practical problems. If, however, a problem has complex ethical dimensions or otherwise ambiguous qualities, the average ability to think critically is often not adequate. This inadequacy is especially evident when we are required to think critically about our own cherished beliefs and ideas. Although the Classic Socratic method is superior with regard to its impact on developing critical thinking, the Modern Socratic method has a valuable influence on the development of critical thinking to the extent that it makes people comfortable questioning their own ideas. The good news about the Socratic method is that some of its most powerful benefits are delivered to people in a way that does not require great philosophical prowess or teaching skill (Modern Socratic method). A cup of open mindedness, a pinch of humble servility and a passion to explore makes up most of the recipe for putting the Modern Socratic method to productive use. However, the most powerful aspect of the Socratic method (the classic style) is very difficult to employ. Both styles of the Socratic method are described below.

The Classic Socratic Method:
The Two-Phase Freestyle

There are two phases in the Classic Socratic method. I refer to the Classic Socratic method as a Two-Phase Freestyle form of dialectic. The Modern Socratic method is often constrained to a pre-designed set of questions that are known to generate a range of predictable answers and elicit knowable facts. The Classic Socratic method is freestyle because, due to the nature of the questions, it cannot predict the responses to questions, anticipate the flow of the conversation or even know if a satisfactory answer is possible. The main portrait of how Socrates functioned in the classic style is in the early Dialogues of Plato (and some later dialogues). Plato wrote in the form of dialogues. In these dialogues Socrates would talk to people that had a reputation for having some knowledge of, or some interest in, the subject of the dialogue. In the classic style, Socrates would ask the primary question of the dialogue in the form of “What is X?”. (e.g. What is justice?) The respondents would answer. Socrates would then ask more questions and the respondent’s answers would end up refuting the definition to the question "What is X?", which they had originally given. Once the respondent realized that the definition was not valid she would be asked again, “What is X?”. This process would often repeat until the end of the dialogue. With each new definition the respondent is subjected to more questions and continues to fail to define X. The conclusion of the dialogue would be an admission of failure to find a proper definition of X. Apparently this Socratic questioning had quite an effect on the respondents.

In the Socratic dialogue called Meno. Socrates is asked by Meno if he believes that virtue can be taught. Meno was shocked and could scarcely believe it when Socrates tells him that he not only does not know if virtue can be taught, but does not understand the nature of virtue. Furthermore, Socrates tells Meno that he never knew anyone else who had an understanding of virtue. Meno’s reluctance to believe Socrates never knew anyone who understood what virtue is was based on his belief that any grown and properly educated man would have some knowledge of virtue. Meno believed that he understood the nature of virtue. Meno is then exposed to Socratic questioning. Plato gives us a description of the effect this questioning had on Meno when Meno tells Socrates,

“O Socrates, I used to be told, before I knew you, that you were always doubting yourself and making others doubt; and now you are casting your spells over me, and I am simply getting bewitched and enchanted, and am at my wits’ end. And if I may venture to make a jest upon you, you seem to me both in your appearance and in your power over others to be very like the flat torpedo fish, who torpifies (makes numb) those who come near him and touch him, as you have now torpified me, I think. For my soul and my tongue are really torpid, and I do not know how to answer you; and though I have been delivered of an infinite variety of speeches about virtue before now, and to many persons-and very good ones they were, as I thought. At this moment I cannot even say what virtue is. And I think that you are very wise in not voyaging and going away from home, for if you did in other places as do in Athens, you would be cast into prison as a magician.” – from Meno

Meno had been moved from a sense of security over his knowledge about virtue to the uncomfortable realization that he cannot even define virtue. With Meno’s words above we see the effect of the Classic Socratic method. This effect has two main possibilities. Either a person will be inspired to better and more vigorous thinking about a question or they will get discouraged by having their perspective challenged.

The Deconstructive Phase

The purpose of the first phase of the Classic Socratic method is that it prepares people to think. The only people who are incapable of thinking about an issue are those who are already convinced they have “the” understanding of an issue. There are no “Socratic teachings”, but there is a Socratic goal. The goal inherent in any method of questioning worthy of the name “Socratic” is the improvement of a human being through increased understanding. The first phase of the Classic Socratic method deconstructs people’s previous understanding using their own words and leaves them with the experience of being less sure of what they previously knew with greater certainty. This is its value.

Convictions, when held too tightly, blind us in a way that traps us within our own opinions. Although this protects us from uncomfortable ambiguities and troublesome contradictions, it also makes us comfortable with stagnation and blocks the path to improved understanding. In other words, without the capacity to question ourselves the possibility of real thinking ceases. If people are not able to question their own ideas they cannot be thoughtful at all. When unacknowledged or unquestioned assumptions dominate the mind, thoughtfulness becomes a danger and the human aspiration to improve and grow in understanding becomes a slave to fear. The goal of the Classic Socratic method is to help people by freeing their desire for understanding from the harmful limitations that come through clinging to the false securities of their current knowing. People who experience the effect, which arises from being a recipient of the first phase of the Socratic method are freed from the shackles of confidence in their knowing. This affords them the optional freedom of thinking about an issue with a greater quality of thoughtfulness. Reactions to this effect can be diverse. They range from embracing the experience with zeal to seeking to remove oneself from the situation.

When stripped of their usual surety, a person may become sensitive and anxious. The advantage of the Classic Socratic method over the more common forms of discussion or debate is that the Socratic questioner may abandon the burdensome pretense of knowing and take the more subordinate and conversationally effective role as a seeker of understanding. This has the effect of flying under the defensive radar, particularly on controversial issues, and provides a measure of comfort that can move the conversation to a more productive level. Instead of trading contrary propositions and defending mutually exclusive arguments, the Classic Socratic method functions by keeping the conversation focused on common goals that are shared by both sides. Instead of being an opponent, the person being questioned becomes a teacher and helper.

A function of Socratic irony in the context of the first phase is to increase the level of psychological comfort while at the same time placing all the burden for finding answers upon the respondent. This ensures that communication is more effective and helps a person’s aspiration to increase their understanding to have the best chance of responding positively to the conversation. This is critical as the deconstructive phase can be distressing. With reference to the deconstructive sting his method was capable of, while on trial for his life Socrates said that he was:

“sort of a gadfly. given to the state by the god; and the state is a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which the god has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you.” – from the Apology

This Socratic gadfly was put to death because his habit of questioning things seemed out of character with Athens. He favored reasoned examination over quoting poets. Athenian literary history, and the God’s that inhabited it were sacred. Socrates had another idea of what had value in determining how best to live. He was relentless questioning everything pertaining to the justice and virtue of human character. Some of Socrates’ young conversation partners, who had ambitions in politics, would go home to their powerful families and to other prominent persons and ply this method to tearing down existing beliefs with much less servility and grace than Socrates. It seemed to some of the people of Athens that the effect of Socrates’ questioning was to make the young question things in a manner that they should not. When some of Socrates’ students became part of a ruthless group of tyrant’s, who riegned under a Spartan imposed election and viciously abused their power, this added to the percieved fruit of Socrates’ corruption of the youth. Socrates ability to remain in Athens during the Thirty Tyrant’s rule did not help at his trial. Socrates was seen to have been one who denied the sacred traditions of the city state and passed that corruption to the youth. Having been sentenced to death, Socrates had the opportunity to escape prison and live in exile but refused. He spent his last month in prison the same way he spent his life as a free man. He explored life questioning those around him. On his last day he drank the deadly hemlock because his fellow Athenians believed he was a failure as a teacher. At the time of his death, he was looked at by many Athenians as a man who made his students worse instead of improving them. In the face of such spectacular failures as Critias, Alcibiades and Charmides, Socrates never thought less of his style of seeking and teaching. He valued it until the end. Seeking understanding and using questions in that pursuit have more worth than any failures can can ever do to discredit. If Socrates’ student/tyrants had ever learned to really question themselves, they might have lived differently. If Socrates had not demonstrated such a gentle, graceful and sincerely helpful manner in his questioning activities, he probably would not have lived as long as he did.

One of the most “Socratic” aspects of Socrates’ method has nothing to do with conversational techniques, philosophical principles, or pedagogical perspectives. It is all about a genuine attitude of humility and service towards the person being questioned. This Socratic irony, with its characteristic humble grace, goes a long way to giving people the interest, determination and patience to endure what can be trying experience. Without true Socratic irony, the deconstructive phase becomes an exercise in shallow manipulation that lacks the power to inspire.

The Constructive Phase

When a person who has been exposed to Socratic questioning admits to themselves that an idea they held was wrong or inadequate in some way, that person is freed from the constraints of previous understanding and has been brought to a place within themselves which brings to life new ideas and understandings. This bringing to birth of new ideas is the constructive second phase of the two-phase freestyle of the Classic Socratic method. Here the respondent, stripped of previous ideas and convictions, brings to birth new ones. It is this bringing to birth of new ideas and understandings that Socrates related to his mother’s profession as a midwife. Socrates assists in this birth by clearing away ideas that cannot stand up to questioning. This allows the respondent to do their own work in the second phase through her creation of new ideas.

The Cyclic Structure of Phases

There is a division of labor in the Classic Socratic method between the Socratic questioner and the respondent. This division of labor can be described within the framework of the two phases. The first phase (deconstructive) is primarily the work of the Socratic questioner. The second phase (constructive) is entirely the work of the respondent. An illustration of the relationship between these two phases and the labor they involve can be seen in Socrates’ description of his work from the dialogue Theaetetus :

“. the highest point of my art is the power to prove by every test whether the offspring of a young man’s thought is a false phantom or an instinct with life and truth. I am so far like the midwife, that I cannot myself give birth to wisdom; and the common reproach is true that, though I question others, I can myself bring nothing to light because there is no wisdom in me. The reason is this: heaven constrains me to serve as a midwife, but has debarred me from giving birth. So of myself I have no sort of wisdom, nor has any discovery ever been born to me as the child of my soul. Those who frequent my company at first appear, some of them, quite unintelligent; but, as we go further with our discussions, all who are favored by heaven make progress at a rate that seems surprising to others as well as to themselves, although it is clear that they have never learned anything from me; the many admirable truths they bring to birth have been discovered by themselves from within. But the delivery is heaven’s work and mine.”

From this description it can be seen that the Platonic Socrates viewed his work as taking place in the deconstructive first phase. As Socrates says in the Theaetetus, “the many admirable truths they (the respondents) bring to birth have been discovered by themselves from within. But the delivery is heaven’s work and mine.” Socrates role is to “test whether the offspring of a young man’s thought is a false phantom or instinct with life and truth.” This testing is the deconstructive first phase where ideas that do not stand up to testing are discarded. The respondent takes command in the constructive second phase. The second phase involves a birth of ideas that the respondents discover “by themselves from within.” Here in the constructive second phase Socrates usually does not assist at all. The respondents are entirely responsible for their own creation. In the deconstructive first phase, Socrates tests a definition or idea with the help of the respondent and the definition or idea collapses. After the collapse we enter the constructive second phase where the respondent creates a new definition or idea all on her own. Upon this act of second phase creation we enter again into the deconstructive first phase and Socrates tests again if this new idea is, "a false phantom or an instinct with life and truth." Grouping the Classic Socratic method into two phases is defined by this process of creation and destruction. The cycle can take place any number of times during an application of the Socratic method. The goal is to seek ideas and definitions that will stand up to testing and show themselves to be full of “life and truth.” The Classic Socratic method, as described by the two phases is characteristic in the early dialogues of Plato (and some later dialogues).

The Modern Socratic Method:
The Constructive Agenda

When people speak today of using the Socratic method in conversation, it is almost always the Modern Socratic method of which they speak. I call this style the Constructive Agenda. This second style of the Socratic method is also found in Plato. In the Meno dialogue, for example, the first part of the dialogue is an illustration of the Two-Phase Freestyle of the Classic Socratic method. Then in response to Meno’s claim that one cannot ever inquire into anything (known as Meno’s paradox ), Socrates is made to introduce Plato’s idea of knowledge as recollection. This theory is illustrated by a dialogue with a one of Meno’s slaves. The subject is a geometry question. There are still wrong answers and clarifying questions but the clear Two-Phase cycle is gone. In its place is a constant progression of knowledge in which the slave is lead to correct answers that build upon each other until the original question is correctly answered. This constant progression of knowledge is also part of the character of Plato’s Republic (after the initial focus on justice). In the Republic the task is not just to answer a geometry question, but to build the ideal city state. Achieving such a lofty goal is beyond the capabilities of endless cycles of not being able to answer a single question. The progress of knowledge in the Republic, however, is not dependent on the classic style of the Socratic method. After book one, Plato changes Socrates’ style in order to advance his agenda. Plato believed that what Socrates’ did best was not suitable to advance knowledge in a way that Plato thought was necessary. In this style of the Socratic method, the Socratic questioner adopts his/her own constructive agenda and sets out to bring that agenda to life in the minds of the respondents.

Differences Between The Classic
and the Modern Socratic Method

With the Classic Socratic method there is no guarantee of a correct answer. The typical result in Socratic dialogue employing the classic style is to not find an answer to the main question. At that point the benefit of the Classic Socratic method is to help the respondent to, in true Socratic fashion, know what they do not know. This becomes the whole value of the Classic Socratic method in the absence of viable answers. In the Modern Socratic method, a correct answer can be known by the Socratic questioner. The Classic Socratic method places the Socratic questioner in the position of being totally ignorant, and by necessity a student of the respondent. The Modern Socratic method puts the Socratic questioner in the position of a teacher who knows the answer (as in the case of the geometry experiment) or at least has a constructive agenda of his/her own (as in Plato’s Republic). It is an open question whether the historical Socrates went beyond the Two-Phase cycles found in Plato’s early (and some other) dialogues. Most scholars believe that the early dialogues, which emphasize the Two-Phase Freestyle are more in the spirit of the historical Socrates than later dialogues. The Constructive Agenda of the Modern Socratic method, first seen in the dialogues of Plato, may be Plato’s idea of improving on Socrates. The Two-Phase Freestyle of the Classic Socratic method is characteristic of the early dialogues, and is less fruitful by most practical constructive standards. There is often no positive acquisition of knowledge except the knowledge of what we do not know. To some, this seems to be a very sparse reward. It is also very difficult to make Socrates’ deconstructive phase work in live conversation. That most modern applications of the Socratic method are oriented around the Constructive Agenda may be explained by the difficulties involved in successfully making the Two-Phase Freestyle work. If a systematic way of teaching people to work the deconstructive phase of the Classic Socratic method in live conversation can be created, it would be a useful tool for inquiry and teaching.

The Socratic Cultivation of Critical Thinking

Never in the history of humanity has it been more important to the survival of our species to raise whole generations of excellent thinkers than it is today. A dreamy ideal of modern education is that college graduates will not only have gained some mastery in the particular disciplines they have chosen, but also graduate with advanced skill in critical thinking. Unfortunately, there are a large number of college students for whom the idea of thinking critically is new to them upon their arrival to college.

Critical thinking should be actively cultivated throughout public school in order for college students to have the base they need to advance their skill. However, critical thinking is a skill that is neglected in our (U.S.) public schools. This is not because of a lack of perceived value, but is neglected because of the lack of ability to adequately teach the fundamentals of reading, writing and math to the students. Nobody can deny that the U.S. school system is broken. So many kids finish their time in the public school system with inadequate knowledge and skills that it is a national emergency. The U.S. government variously estimates the rate of functional illiteracy at between twenty-five and fifty percent. The problem is getting worse.

There are some bad teachers in our schools. But there are a lot more hardworking, dedicated teachers who are just overwhelmed with the important job of trying to get their students to acquire the basic skills they will need just to get by in the world. There is little or no time in the public school curriculum to include much in the way of activities dedicated to the cultivation of critical thinking. This is not just the fault of the public school system. The bulk of the problem is social. In the U.S. too many parents believe that the public school system will do the educating for them. If such parents participate in their child’s education at all, they are content to drop the kids off at school and ask if they did their home work at night. Then they think they are done. Many children also face horrendous social problems that tax their ability to focus on school. Between parental complacency and other factors of social chaos, which impact the students’ homes, neighborhoods and schools, many students do not have the support they need to do well in our under funded and understaffed school systems. What has been described above is extremely important, but we cannot afford to wait until those problems are fixed to address the issue of cultivating critical thinking. The beauty of the Socratic method is that you can incorporate it into existing curriculum without necessarily taking any more class time. Critical thinking can be elevated in the process of employing the existing structures of education.

The Socratic method primarily address aspects of the development of skill in critical thinking that do not come from learning types of logical fallacies or the heuristics for evaluating arguments and solving problems. It comes from a socially communicated inspiration to thirst for understanding and to experience the hard work involved in creating understanding as a joyful and satisfying journey.

Areas of Impact

The Socratic cultivation of critical thinking has two main areas of impact. I have named these areas “The Safety Factor” and “The Preference Factor.” Both areas affect people’s psychological health with regard to their capacity to do their own critical thinking.

The Safety Factor

The safety factor is about how well a person is able to cope with interpersonal conflict, social marginalization, physical danger and death. The safety factor influences the quality of our critical thinking through the dynamics of our desires for social and physical self-preservation. Belief structures are formed and maintained as a response to the demands of our environment. To critically challenge such structures is to risk compromising our ability to meet the demands of our environment and therefore compromise our safety. A basic value that the Socratic method brings to people is to make it possible for them to feel confident about the experience of questioning anything including their own ideas and beliefs. You cannot develop a capacity for critical thinking without a capacity to question anything and everything. People who are afraid to question often don’t. Such persons never develop any real skill in thinking critically until they first overcome their fear of questioning. Ironically, for a species that prides itself on thinking, even the best of our human societies are not optimally organized to cultivate fearless questioning. In many countries people regularly suffer all kinds of retributions and even death just because they asked questions. We have real reasons to be concerned about the results of our own questioning activity. The inducement to fear our ability to inquire comes from many places. Family, peers, schools, churches, societies, corporations and governments all have vested interests in making us believe that we should be careful about our questioning activity.

The social and political suppression of the act of critical inquiry is not restricted to nations ruled by dictators. Many people who have persisted in asking critical questions about the existence of God, the integrity of their government, sexual identity, current laws on abortion, a friend’s motivation, evolution or a company policy have been treated like they were doing something wrong just because they wanted to question something.

People have felt the pressure to stop an inquiry because they questioned the competence, integrity and value of a national leader, popular figure, institution, or perspective. People, who question the existence of God, are considered by many as being morally corrupt and even treated like criminals in many parts of the world. Religious persons have the experience of questioning the morality of something from a religion based perspective and have felt the pressure from the non-religious to stop. The institutional self-interests of school and the workplace pressure people to conform. Parents can make their children feel as if they have done something wrong if the parent is overreacting to thinking the child is asking too many questions or to the child questioning something the parent does not wish to address. Far from being taught to cherish every opportunity to question and far from being led to embrace the experience of questioning with joyful insight into its inherent good, many of us are taught to be very careful and even suspicious about our own desire to question. This over abundance of caution reduces the intelligence of humanity.

The Preference Factor

The preference factor involves the effect of our own presuppositions, attachments and personal commitments. The preference factor influences our critical thinking capacity through the interactions of our preferences, personal beliefs and our pre-existing commitments to taking a particular side in various issues or social conflicts. Critical thinking is not a skill that is evenly applied to all things. A person can be very critically thoughtful on some issues and lacking in critical thoughtfulness in other issues. The measure of a person’s critical thoughtfulness is often correlated to her own personal investments in the issue. For example a person may be very critically thoughtful on issues pertaining to judicial ethics, but lack any critical capacity on the issue of the existence of God because they are already committed to a particular answer for the God question. One can develop extraordinary capacity to engage in critical thinking and yet find that their own preferences in various issues can make the quality of their critical thinking vary tremendously. The two factors overlap but are different. The safety factor is about pressures from without. The preference factor is about pressures from within.

Socratic Questioning and Critical Thinking

It is very important to find your own love of questioning prior to using the Socratic method. If you are not comfortable with being questioned, please do not use the Socratic method. You are not ready. Not only will your lack of comfort transmit to the students (even if you are the questioner), you will not be up to par on living true Socratic Irony (See the essay, "The Socratic Temperament" ). This is important because the Socratic method addresses both factors by providing people with the opportunity for positive questioning experiences. When people are placed in a situation where they are questioned in a way that is friendly, respectful and useful, people are empowered to experience the value of good questions. They are inspired to see questioning as a fundamentally important part of life. This is particularly true if a person can experience having a personal belief or idea refuted in a positive way. In the midst of Socratic questioning people can learn to feel good about getting one of their beliefs or ideas questioned and discarded. This is true because the successful application of the Socratic method provides people with the realization that if they work hard they can either create a better belief or idea, or they can in true Socratic fashion feel good about knowing what they do not know. We all have experiences which make us cautious and fearful about questioning. Through the use of the Socratic method we can offer a balancing positive experience of the act of asking questions. This can inspire people to eagerly embrace the heart of critical thinking, which is the freedom and will to question without fear of any kind. Such an embrace can only strengthen their capacity for critical thought.

Learning to love the experience of questioning gives psychological strength to our will to question. Learning to love the experience of having our own beliefs and ideas questioned and even discarded gives us an inspired vision of our power to work for our own improvement. If we see questioning as a sacred activity that is vital to our own safety (by safeguarding our integrity and growth), we are less afraid to question the world. If we develop a preference for questioning our own preferences we find a true Socratic spirit within ourselves that will empower our critical thinking for life. The successful use of the Socratic method gifts those who experience it with the living heart of critical thinking.

1 Gregory Vlastos, & Daniel W. Graham (1971). "The Paradox of Socrates." In The Philosophy of Socrates: A Collection of Critical Essays. Anchor Books, p 20. (Quote was gender neutralized)

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Reflective thinking: turning a critical incident into a topic for research

Malcolm Elliott, BN, MN, RN.

Lecturer, Department of Nursing, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

A critical incident is one which causes a person to pause and contemplate the events that have occurred to try to give them some meaning.

This may be a positive experience or a negative one. Using a critical incident as a way of reflecting involves the identification of behaviour deemed to have been particularly helpful or unhelpful in a given situation (Hannigan, 2001).

In nursing, for example, a critical incident could take the form of a medication error, a nosocomial infection or helping a patient achieve a comfortable, dignified death. These events might be labelled as ‘critical incidents’ because they encourage nurses to reflect on what has happened, to challenge their practice or to resolve to do better next time. Identifying the nature and sources of critical incidents presents the opportunity to raise the educational profile of the skills needed to address these issues (Perry, 1997).

Critical incidents can also be used as a basis for clinical research projects. According to Hagland (1998), almost everyone at some time considers how things could have been avoided, overcome or improved. Good research projects often start with the identification of a problem and those projects which solve or eliminate clinical problems are the most worthwhile. And, as Polit and Hungler conclude, the answers to nursing research questions help nurses provide more effective nursing care and document the unique role nursing plays in the health-care system (1993).

The path, however, from critical incident to a researchable question is not an easy one. Many nurses are intimidated by the thought of carrying out research because they have not done it before, the research process is foreign to them or because they feel they do not have a topic or question than needs answering.

Page and Meerabeau (2000) believe that if the reflector perceives themselves to be in a powerless position to orchestrate changes or suffers from professional apathy, learning and practice are unlikely to be advanced. Thus successful reflection is as much about the attitude of the clinician as the topic or theme being explored.

Reid (1993) defined reflection as a process of reviewing an experience of practice in order to describe, analyse, evaluate and so inform learning about practice. There are a number of benefits of reflective practice (Box 1).

Reid (1993) adds that reflective practice is potentially both a way of learning and a mode of survival and development once formal education ceases. In fact it challenges the concept of education as a once-and-for-all experience. It is an effective self-learning and teaching tool for professional growth and is a key way of improving nurses’ professional standing (Lian, 2001).

Taking critical incidents further

The aim of this paper is to describe the process a clinical nurse, who might be an inexperienced researcher, can use to create researchable questions from clinical incidents. This aim will be achieved by describing the critical process used by the author to generate potential research questions from an incident. The paper will conclude by describing the advantages of the reflective process in generating research questions.


Reflection on action (rather than in action) was used to examine this event. One of the main criticisms of this type of reflection is that, because the outcome is known, the development of practical knowledge may actually be inhibited by its influence (Page and Meerabeau, 2000).

The validity of this criticism depends very much on the specific nature of the incident being reflected upon. It will be seen from the incident described here that the outcome does not affect the development of knowledge but in fact raises or highlights many researchable topics.

When asked to think of a critical incident, there is the temptation to try to think of an experience in which one ‘saved the world’ or alternatively ‘negative’ incidents in which one has been involved.

Students in a study by Smith and Russell (1991) experienced such difficulties. An easy trap to fall into when trying to identify a critical incident is to focus on one’s negative experiences, make broad generalisations from them and to try to use these as a basis for research. Although this can generate researchable questions, it is probably easier to develop questions and a research project through passion and enthusiasm rather than anger and bitterness. It is for this reason that one must be objective when reflecting on a subjective incident.

To consider what to research, the author reflected on incidents in which he had been involved and had strong feelings about or which were a source of great frustration. This opened the door to many incidents. The incident chosen for further exploration was the readmission of a patient to the intensive care unit (ICU) soon after he had been discharged to a general ward.

A suitable critical incident

The next step in the reflective process is to write a description of the incident selected in an attempt to identify some themes.

The patient concerned was a man in his fifties who was struck by a car. Although he had no injuries to the head, chest or spine, he was in ICU because of hypovolaemic shock related to abdominal bleeding. His major injuries were orthopaedic, involving extensive fractures to both of his legs and significant tendon damage.

The author first encountered the patient when he was in the high-dependency unit (HDU) attached to the ICU. He had been in the ICU for about three months due to complications related to an exploratory laparotomy performed to find a source of his bleeding. Although no major abdominal injuries were found, his abdomen became a source of sepsis and, ultimately, septic shock postoperatively.

The day the author cared for him, the patient had a tracheostomy in situ. He was breathing spontaneously but his airway required regular suctioning. He was conscious and able to communicate but at times seemed withdrawn and unresponsive to the environment he was in. He had significantly reduced movement and sensation in both of his legs, obviously related to the trauma.

The incident occurred when the author returned to work for a morning shift after having a few days of annual leave. The patient was no longer in the HDU. He had been sent to the orthopaedic ward the previous afternoon. However, a few hours later on that same morning shift, the patient was readmitted to the ICU after experiencing a respiratory arrest in the ward.

This was a critical incident for a number of reasons. First, there was anger because the hard work of the ICU and HDU staff appeared to have been wasted. The ICU staff had spent weeks weaning the patient off the ventilator and giving him intensive nursing and medical care, and now he was back where he started. Also, although his condition had been stable for a number of days before discharge, there was concern that his family might feel that we had discharged him prematurely and thus mismanaged or neglected him.

There was the desire as well to blame someone and the ward staff were an easy target. Page and Meerabeau (2000) warn that: ‘The whole business of reflection carries the potential for harm for the reflector as they may have to confront challenges to cherished beliefs and ideals, or come into conflict with peers as a result of the new insight reflection has afforded them.’ This may in fact be an advantage because, by challenging the way we practise our craft, the potential for better quality care or improved outcomes can be reached.

One or two negative clinical experiences such as the above incident can easily make one frustrated and angry at the health-care system and its inability to meet the needs of the people it is designed to serve. In reality, the effectiveness of the system is probably related to the abilities of the clinicians that work in it and particularly their ability to work as a team.

It is also possible to be influenced by the ‘blame culture’ in nursing, in which we do not hesitate to blame each other for complications a patient experiences even though it may be our own fault.

The next step in the reflective process is to identify some themes or issues that the incident ‘created’ or highlighted. Box 2 lists some of the these. The list is far from exhaustive and each theme is complex and has various questions associated with it.

The next step in the reflective process is to review the literature, with the hope of acquiring insight into the incident and its themes. Two main databases were used: CINAHL and Medline. The world wide web was also searched. Search terms used were ‘readmission’, ‘intensive care’, ‘critical care’, ‘high-dependency’ and ‘bounce back’.

Readmission rates – From wards to ICU readmission rates are between 5 and 10% (Chen et al, 1998; Cooper et al, 1999; Durbin and Kopel, 1993; Snow et al, 1985), though some literature cited rates between 10 and 19% (Baigelman et al, 1983; Franklin and Jackson, 1983; Levy et al, 2001). Of significance is that published readmission rates have not changed much in the past 20 years.

Reasons for readmission – Common reasons for readmission to ICU are cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary dysfunction, which includes aspiration or bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary oedema, respiratory failure, sputum retention and respiratory arrest (Chen et al, 1998; Cooper et al, 1999; Levy et al, 2001; Russell, 1998; Wallis et al, 1997).

Gaps in the literature – The actual or specific causes of these clinical problems were often missing, suggesting new areas for research. Other gaps in the literature included:

– What factors influence the care patients discharged from ICU receive in general wards?

– Is a breakdown in continuity of care responsible for patients being readmitted to ICU?

– What are clinicians’ opinions on why patients are readmitted to ICU?

This list is certainly not complete and does not address every potential question arising from the literature review.

A literature review must also examine the methodology used in the studies reviewed. Most of the studies were performed by medical researchers and were retrospective reviews of either medical databases or patients’ medical records. There were few studies performed by nurse researchers that addressed the readmission theme. Mostly these studies examined issues such as ward nurses’ experiences of caring for patients transferred from ICU or their thoughts and opinions about caring for these patients. Data were collected through questionnaires or surveys. The literature provided insight into some of the themes listed earlier. However, many remained unexplored and it also raised questions for future research.

Choosing a theme for research

The next stage after the literature review is to choose the direction to take: to explore issues arising from critical reflection of the nurse’s own experience or tackle one of the questions from the studies already published. The author has chosen to explore issues arising from his own experience, to give him ownership of the project.

The aim of the proposed research study will be to explore why patients are readmitted to ICU from general wards, specifically by asking clinicians their opinions. Clinicians include registered nurses who work in general wards and ICU, and senior medical staff who work in ICU. Obviously there are many other questions or themes that could be explored, but a sound research project needs to have a very specific focus. The methodology of the study will include semi-structured interviews of clinicians. Recruitment is ongoing.


As can be seen, the path from a critical incident to a researchable topic need not be complex. Nurses frequently experience critical incidents in their professional practice. These incidents can be a source of great frustration because, by their complex nature, their meaning or significance is not obvious. However, these incidents also provide a wealth of learning opportunities as well as potential research projects.

Nurses can use the reflective process to identify the underlying themes of these incidents, which may then serve as the basis for a research proposal.

There are numerous benefits to using the reflective process in this way. One of the main ones is that with a little time, effort and minimal expense, the nursing workforce can advance its practice and become knowledgeable doers who deliver quality care by virtue of the critical insights gained through reflection (Page and Meerabeau, 2000).

Although the reflective process described here was performed under supervision as part of a postgraduate nursing course, such supervision is not necessary, even for the inexperienced reflector, to produce worthwhile researchable topics.

Nurses probably use the reflective process in their everyday practice without being consciously aware that they are doing so. By formalising or structuring their thought processes, not only is fresh or new insight obtained, but specific researchable questions can be formulated.

This paper has provided on overview of what a critical incident is and what the reflective process involves. It has described how the author applied the reflective process to a critical incident and by doing so was able to generate a researchable topic.

– The author would like to thank Professor Patrick Crookes, Head of the Department of Nursing, University of Wollongong, Australia, for editorial assistance.

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The Importance of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving – “An Army leader is any one who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences peoples to accomplish organizational goals. She or He motivates people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking, and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization.1” But for him to do that effectively and efficiently. he has to be prepared, shaped and refined. There are few institutions to prepare such leaders and CGSC is one of those institutions which are mandated, organized and equipped to prepare such leaders. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]
. 6 Works Cited

1001 words
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Critical Thinking vs Making Assumptions – Critical thinking takes consistent behavior in asking the right questions about the subject. In my life, I have come across people who ask many questions and some people who “go with the flow” and believe everything they hear because it is spoken with some sort of authority. Assumptions can be damaging to relationships and without critical thinking and communication, our thought process can assume the wrong idea entirely. When I speak with someone who is a critical thinker, they can be so convincing that it is often challenging to decide what the correct conclusions are. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]
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1143 words
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Microsoft’s Minesweeper: Develops Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills – Outline Introduction: Psychic powers. That is what an observer might think while watching someone find the bombs while playing Minesweeper; however, it is really a skill acquired through experience. I. Minesweeper Background Information II. Minesweeper Game Details A. Beginning the Game B. Types of spaces C. Levels of Play III. Minesweeper Develops These Skills A. Poblem Solving B. Critical Thinking Skills IV. How Minesweeper Is Useful In Life A. Job Environment B. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]

1010 words
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Applying Critical Thinking – Introduction On August 12, 2010, the Governor of Illinois notified the Federal State Employee Union (FSEU) Local 343, of the state’s intent to outsource and privatize the Department of Transportation (DoT) information systems management function (B. Glenn, personal communication, August 20, 2010). In response, Mr. Padilla, the president of the FSEU Local No. 343, requests the FSEU Director of Human Resources, Ms. Glenn to evaluate the notification. The memorandum dated August 20, 2010, includes Ms. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]
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What is Critical Thinking? – What is Critical Thinking. Is the process of conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and /or evaluating information gathered by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication, as a guide to belief and action (Scriven & Paul, n.d.). When one applies critical thinking more ideas are develop, fewer mistakes are made and better decisions are reached. When people instead of using critical thinking act on beliefs or without giving it a second thought, the end results are poor decisions and as a result have a disaster at hand. [tags: Education, definition, expository, informative]

1076 words
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Urban Education and Critical Pedagogy – In a broad sense, the field of social foundations of education entails beliefs and values in school and society, the political economy in schools and society, and the culture of the school. There are a magnitude of social forces that affect educational policies on a daily basis such as; government, religion, family and the economy. Each of these social structures influences one another which results in many conflicts in regards to a “democratic education.” The social foundations of education do not meet the criteria of a democratic education because of certain laws or rules that are established. [tags: Education]
. 2 Works Cited

1043 words
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Reflection Upon A Critical Incident – This paper will reflect upon and explore a critical incident which occurred whilst attending a clinical placement. Reflective practice has become very popular over the last few decades throughout a variety of professions. In some professions it has become one of the defining features of competence. The wide spread utilization of reflective practice is due to the fact that it ‘rings true’ (Loughran, 2000). Within different disciplines, what is understood by reflective practice varies considerably (Fook et al, 2006). [tags: Reflection Upon Nursing Skills]
. 18 Works Cited

2672 words
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Critical Thinking in History – My enrollment in the History course this semester was due to requirements for my bachelor’s degree in nursing. Rather than feeling that the course took valuable time away from the core curriculum, what I learned has made a lasting impact on how I feel about the world around me and who I am in that world. Those changes are going to impact the way in which I interact with my future patients and conduct myself as a healthcare professional. The format of the course facilitated a deeper understanding of social and cultural concepts and how those concepts can affect and even define a group of people or region to the rest of the world. [tags: Importance of History]
. 5 Works Cited

1924 words
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Critical Thinking – INTRODUCTION Critical thinking has been defined in great depth over thousands of years yet comparison of many of these definitions show the emphasis alters between what characteristic is deemed most important for each individual. However the definition alters, the same three important principles are always included: scepticism, open-mindedness and objectivity. It is important for each individual to conclude his or her own definition of critical thinking to enable a specific authenticity that equates to an individuals academic work. [tags: Higher Education]
. 9 Works Cited

1147 words
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Critical Thinking Application – Critical thinking is an important aspect of an individual’s daily life, regardless of an ethnicity, gender, or age. The individual, who has a strong sense of critical thinking skills, has a sense of inquisitiveness, finding an inventive solution to a problem or issue that he or she may be faced with. Critical thinking is used on an individual’s personal life he or she as well will use his or her critical thinking skills on a professional level. In the following paper the discussion of what critical thinking is as well as discusses the “University of Phoenix’s” decision making model, and how critical thinking skills can help us make a crucial decision. [tags: Decision Making Model]

784 words
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Critical Thinking and Evidence-Based Practice – One of the most essential aspects of doing a job well, no matter what job it is, is the ability to think critically about a situation. Finn (2011) defines critical thinking as “the ability and willingness to assess claims and make objective judgments on the basis of well-supported reasons and evidence rather than emotion or anecdote”. The difference between assessing a certain situation critically and assessing it without any evidence to corroborate your claims is that when you look at something critically, you are using your ability to “come up with the alternative explanations for events, think of research findings and apply new knowledge to social and personal problems” (Finn, 2011). [tags: Human Intellect, Healthcare]
. 5 Works Cited

1756 words
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Critical Thinking and Decision Making – Human beings have been preoccupied with thought and the concept of thought for centuries as is evidenced by the many philosophical and religious writings we find dating from ancient times. After all, we as human beings hold ourselves to be the masters of intelligence in the natural world since no other specie seems to exhibit the capability of thought and intelligence as demonstrated by human beings, the very term “homo sapiens” infers the ability to think. Critical thinking is asking the right questions about the information we are presented with on any given situation. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]
. 1 Works Cited

1089 words
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The Importance of Critical Thinking – The Importance of Critical Thinking When you hear the words—science, formulas, scientific methods, experiments, procedures—where do you go. Do you turn off. As an educator in the field of science, how can I turn you on. For some people it may be second nature to notice whether or not descriptions (in newspapers, various publications, on television or in professional journals) make any sense logically or are avoiding some obviously related questions that should be asked and answered. Logical fallacies are perpetrated in every field, but the vast majority of people must be taught this type of skeptical reasoning—it is not second nature for most of us. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]
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Critical Analysis of an Incident in a Clinical Setting – The purpose of this essay is to reflect and critically study an incident from a clinical setting whilst using a model of reflection. This will allow me to analyse and make sense of the incident and draw conclusions relating to personal learning outcomes. The significance of critical analysis and critical incidents will briefly be discussed followed by the process of reflection using the chosen model. The incident will then be described and analysed and the people involved introduced. (The names of the people involved have been changed to protect their privacy) and then I will examine issues raised in light of the recent literature relating to the incident. [tags: Reflection Upon Nursing Skills]

1679 words
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Critical Pedagogy in Social Studies Education – Since the early twentieth century, educational theorists and researchers debated often about topics concerning the validity, purposes, and best approach to public education and the social studies discipline in the United States. Since the adoption of Ralph Tyler’s teacher-centered, essentialist approach to curriculum, John Dewey’s call for progressive reform and student-centered learning, and Paolo Freire’s call for an education that advocates social change and the destruction of social oppression, education pundits found themselves stuck between different goals, outcomes, and possibilities for teaching social studies. [tags: Education ]
. 11 Works Cited

2408 words
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Critical Thinking and Decision-Making – Critical Thinking and Decision-Making The purpose of this paper is to explain critical thinking and decision-making by different examples, models, and show how it is used in everyday life. Everyone uses critical thinking and decision-making all the time, most of the time without recognition and involuntary and it starts from the time you wake up in the morning till you go to bed. There are three components for every decision made and they are: 1.Criteria- the standards by which decision makers evaluate alternatives. [tags: Critical Thinking Decisions]
. 2 Works Cited

1887 words
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Critical Pedagogy: The Study of Oppression in Education – In the education world, the topic of critical pedagogy will be introduced to many. Before one can discuss critical pedagogy, one must know the meaning of it. Critical pedagogy is known to many as the study of oppression in education. It includes how issues of sex, race, gender, culture, and other social factors shape education. Critical pedagogy is also known by many as how teaching and learning takes place. An example of critical pedagogy is when students are able to ask why and respond or challenge questions that are asked in a free manner. [tags: teaching, teachers]

870 words
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Kaupapa Māori Theory and Critical Theory – Discuss how Kaupapa Māori Theory and Critical Theory are similar to one another and yet differ from Deficit Theory. Use examples and references to support your claims. Remember your examples should relate to an educational setting. For many eons the roots of kaupapa Māori theory have grown in Aotearoa by virtue of being the Māori ideology: a philosophical doctrine, incorporating the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values of Māori society; whereas critical theory was developed in the “Frankfurt School “in Europe, in the 1930s. [tags: Education, Philosophy]

2044 words
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Critical Appraisal of Qualitative Journal Article – Introduction Everyone possess critical thinking skills but when it comes to criticize a journal article it can be difficult for the first time, one of the best ways to develop critical thinking and reading skills is to use some strategies when reading and evaluating a research study (Wood & Haber,1998). The following essay it is going to focus in a critique of a qualitative journal article by giving its strengths and weakness, critical appraisal it is going to be done with support from different references and frameworks relevant to a qualitative study. [tags: Article Review, Analysis, Informative]

2199 words
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Research and Critical Thinking – Research & Critical Thinking Research and critical thinking is such a crucial entity in the world of every single science and our every day lives. While a biologist is testing the effects of carbon monoxide on the environment, a little girl is pointing in the sky counting how many colors there are in a rainbow. Both of these scenarios involve research and critical thinking but are extremely different. There are no guidelines for the little girl but there are many that the biologist has to follow. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]

1132 words
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Critical Literacy and Content Literacy Connections – Critical Literacy and Content Literacy Connections Critical literacy is the ability to read and write in a way that results in a deeper understanding. Critical literacy is an approach that teaches students “to exercise their critical faculties to filter what they understand and are asked to believe from texts” (Temple, Ogle, Crawford, & Freppon). Content area literacy “emphasize two ideas: 1) the significance of reading to learn and 2) the importance of teaching students to become more proficient and efficient readers of content area texts.” (Swafford & Kallus). [tags: teaching students, understanding]
. 3 Works Cited

1008 words
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Learning English, Critical Thinking and Analyzing – Over the time that I have learned English, I have gained many new knowledge and understanding of the English language. I have learned about sentence structures, plot diagrams, Socratic seminar, and vocabulary, and essay writings, elements of literature, symbolism, poems, and double entry notes. But overall, my best effort is put into critical thinking and analyzing. I always try my best to answer questions such as identifying themes, foreshadowing, and symbolism. I hope that my grades are improving as I get more used to the school systems and the teaching styles of different teachers. [tags: ESL, ]

582 words
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Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Learning Development – Critical thinking and problem solving are skills required to increase the growth in children’s learning and development, especially if our goal is to prepare a community of effective life-long learners. Researchers find that the definitions of each of these skills vary among the education community, but the necessity of student acquisition of these skills is demanded in the learning process. Critical thinking and problem solving offer an extensive, fundamental skill to the educating of children. [tags: Education, Teaching for Understanding]
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2105 words
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Reflection Upon A Critical Incident – Reflection has its importance in clinical practice; we always seek to be successful and that can be achieved by learning every day of our life through experiences we encounter. In that way we can reconsider and rethink our previous knowledge and add new learning to our knowledge base so as to inform our practice. Learning new skills does not stop upon qualifying; this should become second nature to thinking professionals as they continue their professional development throughout their careers (Jasper, 2006). [tags: Reflective Practice Nursing, Respiratory Distress]
. 8 Works Cited

1434 words
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Reflection on a Critical Incident – Reflection has its importance in clinical practice; we always seek to be successful and that can be achieved by learning every day of our life through experiences we encounter. In that way we can reconsider and rethink our previous knowledge and add new learning to our knowledge base so as to inform our practice. Learning new skills does not stop upon qualifying; this should become second nature to thinking professionals as they continue their professional development throughout their careers (Jasper, 2006). [tags: Nursing Reflective Practice, 2015]
. 10 Works Cited

2266 words
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Critical Thinking Aids Decision Making – “Doing the right things starts with knowing the right things.” Humans alike all strive to do the right things, yet our failure to do so is due to our lack in judgment- our perception of reasoning. Before we can do ‘the right thing’, we must know ‘the right thing’, which is lead by personal experiences, feelings and numerous other factors, which will be discussed later on. Responsible action correlates with ‘knowing the right things’ because society presumes ‘the right things’ are indeed the responsible things. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]

866 words
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Critical Thinking – For our module three assignment “Research and Inclusiveness” we were tasked with finding a full-text article on issues of diversity and their impact on leadership effectiveness. After two days of research, several searches with varying degrees of search parameters, and scanning multiple articles, I narrowed my search down to the article “Diversity as Strategy” (September 2004) by David A. Thomas, who is a professor of organizational behavior and human resources management at Harvard Business School in Boston. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]
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873 words
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Lin, 2009 Critical Analysis – “Critically evaluate Lin, 2009. Is it true that an international student must learn a new way of thinking and writing when they come to study in a UK-type academic environment?” INTRODUCTION Nowadays, there is a lot of scientist and professional who want to learn English to benefit from its leading position of power in modern research and economy. Linn (2009) mentioned that he agree with what Schneider & Fujishima (1995) say about academic writing in English particularly after its long history of development. [tags: Language]

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The Relationship Between Critical Thinking and Decision Making – Critical thinking and decision-making are related in more ways than people think. This paper will define critical thinking and decision-making according to the book Whatever It Takes. It will also present a personal definition of critical thinking and decision-making from the author of this paper. The relationship between the two will be explained as well as the benefits of being a critical thinker. The author of this paper will also show how critical thinking is present in his organization and how he implements critical thinking techniques on a daily basis. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]
. 1 Works Cited

678 words
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Applying Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills – Using What You Have Learned As a student at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy you will be challenged continuously. The experiences and knowledge that is gained through the periods of instruction will greatly assist you in your future assignments. The knowledge gained from block C100 are important to a future Operations Sergeants Major because the duties of an Operations Sergeants Major greatly affect a large amount of soldiers, without this knowledge soldiers will suffer unnecessarily. [tags: Military, Business, Joint Operations]

876 words
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Critical Thinking: The Ability to Think for Ones Self – Critical thinkers have the ability to think on a higher level. A process for thinking critically is required that will bring about decisions and ideas that will provide for a better life for ourselves and those around us. Most of us take thinking for granted. However, we develop as critical thinkers when we open ourselves to recognizing the strengths and weakness’ of our own thinking. Higher order thinking comes into play when choosing a presidential candidate, or sitting on a jury for a murder trial, or deciding if we need nuclear power plants, or when determining the effects of global warming. [tags: Critical Thinking Essays]
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Computer Games: An Approach to Increase Critical Thinking in Mathematics – There are many views surrounding the use of computer games in the classroom. Some argue that computer games are a valuable asset to the education sector while others are skeptical about this view. The truth is that people have changed the way they interact in the 21st Century and technology has played an important role. According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009, only twenty-six percent of U.S. students scored above level 4 (level 4 refers to the ability to complete higher order tasks) in the area of mathematics. [tags: education, gaming, technology, learning]
. 16 Works Cited

1856 words
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Critical Thinking and Decision Making – Critical Thinking and Decision Making In the corporate environment critical decisions must be made, sometimes quickly, whether because of changes in market conditions, corporate profits, or corporate performances. The decision-making process is vital to good management in today’s work environment. This paper will examine the relationship between critical thinking and the decision making process, explain what the textbook authors believe, and relate how both apply to today’s workplace. Critical thinking involves the ability to weigh evidence, examine arguments, and construct rational bases for generally accepted beliefs. [tags: Corporations Managerial Decision Making Essays]
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585 words
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Role of Language and Diversity in the Critical Thinking Process – My girlfriend and I have been fortunate enough to vacation several times in Hawaii. The island of Maui is our favorite. The island of Maui holds a special place in my heart, because of the one-on-one time I was able to spend with my girlfriend. We enjoy the breathtaking scenery and the tranquil sunsets. The highlight of our trips has been the helicopter rides. The helicopter is the only way to see some of the islands awesome waterfalls and other secluded places. The ride can be a little hair raising when it is windy. [tags: Critical Thinking Process]
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710 words
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Critical Thinking and Business Decisions – Critical Thinking and Business Decisions Our basic concept of critical thinking is, at root, simple. We could define it as the art of taking charge of your own mind. Its value is also at root simple: “if we can take charge of our own minds, we can take charge of our lives; we can improve them, bringing them under our “self-command” and direction (McCall and Kaplan, 1990).” Of course, this requires that we learn self-discipline and the art of self-examination. This involves becoming interested in how our minds work, how we can monitor, fine tune, and modify their operations for the better. [tags: GCSE Business Marketing Coursework]
. 2 Works Cited

991 words
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Critical Thinking – Critical Thinking Application Critical thinking is the art of thinking in a manner that is critical. This means that prior to making a decision one must be informed about possible repercussions and/or outcomes, this is particularly true in the case of both employers and an employees. A decision maker must be willing to “choose how to respond to opportunities and problems on the basis of a simplified and approximate account of the situation” (George & Jones, 2005, pg 475), while a stakeholder (in this case an employee) must be willing and able to complete any task that is put before him or her. [tags: Critical Thinking Decision]

763 words
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Critical Analysis of an Incident – The purpose of this essay is to critically examine an incident from recent practice using a model of reflection. This will enable me to analyse and make sense of the incident and draw conclusions concerning personal learning outcomes. The meaning of critical analysis and critical incidents will briefly be discussed followed by the process of reflection. The incident will then be described and analysed and then I will discuss issues raised in light of the recent literature relating to the incident. [tags: Nursing Reflective Practice, 2015]
. 30 Works Cited

4191 words
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Critical Thinking Example – Critical thinking begins at the earliest stages of life. As you mature the process becomes more involved and by studying and practicing critical thinking methods you can improve and become more efficient in the process. You eventually learn to apply past experience, emotions and concepts that you have learned. Although there many critical thinking examples in personal lives such as decisions on health, money and family, for this paper we will discuss a critical decision process at work which resulted in a significant cost savings for a customer. [tags: Thinking Critically Learning Analysis]

972 words
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Not Just a Number: Critical Numeracy for Adults – Not Just a Number: Critical Numeracy for Adults “It is difficult to understand why so many people must struggle with concepts that are actually simpler than most of the ideas they deal with every day. It is far easier to calculate a percentage than it is to drive a car.” (Dewdney 1993, p. 1) To many people, the words “math” and “simple” do not belong in the same sentence. Math has such an aura of difficulty around it that even people who are quite competent in other areas of life are not ashamed to admit they can’t “do” math. [tags: Numeracy Mathematics Education Essays]
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1988 words
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Improving Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking Skills in Middle School Students – Determine a topic and develop specific questions At the school that I work at reading classes are only required in sixth grade. In seventh and eighth grade reading classes can be taken as an elective class. I strongly feel that all students in middle school still need guidance and continuous practice with reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. Students who are beyond a sixth grade reading class are not getting these reading skills that can be applied in all other academic classes. As a teacher I can not change the fact that the school principal has decided that students in seventh and eighth grade are not required to take a reading class. [tags: Education ]
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Comparison Between Bioethics and Reasoning Thinking – When we talk about bioethics we are basically saying what is and isn’t ethical, usually in a health care setting. Bioethics is a very important subject to become familiar with when planning to work in a healthcare setting. Critical thinking is an important aspect in everyone’s life. The question is do they correlate with each other. Bioethics has a lot of similarities to critical thinking, because in bioethics you have to use critical thinking in order to determine what is and isn’t ethical. Bioethics discusses a lot of controversial topics and asks a lot of questions about things such as patient rights, confidentiality, physician assisted suicide and many more. [tags: bioethics, critical thinking, reasoning]
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Important Characteristics of a Mechanical Engineer – Like all engineering jobs, mechanical engineers have a specialized set of skills that are beneficial to them in their work. If one does not possess these characteristics, it does not necessarily mean that they can never be an engineer; rather, this is a sign that mechanical engineering might be a difficult career for them to go into. After all, no one is perfect, and most engineers do not possess all of these skills. That which one does not know, one can learn, as most mechanical engineers do. Furthermore, the perseverance it takes to acquire those skills is already a step in the right direction. [tags: creativity, critical thinking, education]
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781 words
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Using Close Reading to Improve Critical Thinking Skills: A Project – Objectives In producing my project my objectives are: • To integrate close reading strategies with the literacy/science curriculum to improve critical thinking outcomes with a group of 45 kindergarteners in a medium sized suburban kindergarten classroom • To determine if using close reading can help close the increasing achievement gap between kindergarten and first grade Hispanic and non-Hispanic learners • To develop a variety of close reading activities that can be used in kindergarten and first grade classes • To share my knowledge and results with colleagues at my school Project Description My project has been to investigate how to implement close reading strategies as a means to develo. [tags: Kindergarten, Hispanic Students]
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Everyone Should Have Access to Higher Education – College stresses a person to use his or her critical thinking skills and it’s key that he or she use it without the cost. Without a person’s critical thinking skills they could not get through every day. Critical thinking is an important tool for humans to master. College works on that skill so that when the students graduate from there, they can use those skills to make more educated and responsible decision. Not everyone would have the chance to work on their critical thinking skills if college has a price. [tags: college, critical thinking]
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900 words
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Video Games: Harmful or Helpful? – In recent years, video games have been blamed for causing a wide variety of problems throughout the world, but the benefits of video games certainly outweigh the risks. Video games provide a multitude of positive effects to human beings which aid in aspects daily human life. Positive effects of video games such as strengthening problem-solving and critical thinking skills, reducing reaction times, and reducing violence and crime rates are all skills which unquestionably prove as beneficial to the average human being. [tags: Critical Thinking, Physical World]
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The Importance of Critical Thinking and Ethical Decision Making on Social Work – It is my belief that in order for someone in the social work profession to serve vulnerable populations it was intended to serve, it is imperative to use critical thinking and ethical decision making in tandem to achieve the optimal result. The balance is a delicate and often complex. It requires a close examination or critically thinking, of all the issues not just within yourself, but the community as a whole, the individuals within it, and the client population that the social work serves. The social work profession is built on the foundation that each individual has equal worth and individual rights to self determination. [tags: Social Work]

1159 words
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A Critical Discussion of the Psychological Explanations of Prejudice – A Critical Discussion of the Psychological Explanations of Prejudice Gordon Allport described prejudice as “aversive or hostile attitude toward a person who belongs to a group, simply because he belongs to that group, and is therefore presumed to have the objectionable qualities ascribed to that group”. Prejudice is assuming things about a person putting them into a group. The aim of this essay is discuss the attempts to reduce prejudice and explain how successful they have been. [tags: Papers]

1317 words
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