Friday, April 28 Choose one of these foundational sessions for the first day of the academy:
Teaching Content as a Mode of Thinking to be Understood by Students... Dr. Gerald Nosich
A key insight into content (and into thinking) is that all content represents a distinctive mode of thinking. Math becomes intelligible as one learns to think mathematically, biology as one learns to think biologically, history as one learns to think historically, and so forth. This is true because all subjects are generated by thinking, organized by thinking, analyzed by thinking, synthesized by thinking, expressed by thinking, evaluated by thinking, restructured by thinking, maintained by thinking, transformed by thinking, learned by thinking, understood by thinking, and applied by thinking. If you try to take the thinking out of content, you have nothing - literally nothing - remaining. Learning to think within a unique system of meanings is the key to learning any content whatsoever.
This session will explore the intimate, indeed the inseparable, relationship between content and thinking. It is best suited for higher-education faculty.
Practical Strategies for Teaching Students How to Study and Learn Using the Foundations of Critical Thinking... Ms. Carmen Polka
This session is designed for teachers and administrators concerned with helping students learn to use tools of critical thinking in studying and learning on a typical classroom day. It will focus on the essence of what it means to study academic subjects with discipline. It does not aim to take the intellectual work out of learning, which would be an insult to the intelligence of our students. It will contribute, rather, toward making intellectual work and deep learning more manageable, practical, and intuitive. Our goal is to foster lifelong learning and the traditional ideal of a liberally-educated mind: a mind that questions, probes, and masters varietal forms of knowledge through command of itself, intellectual perseverance, and the tools of learning.
In this session, we will emphasize those foundational intellectual structures and standards of reasonability worth learning explicitly and in themselves, since they help us more deeply interconnect and understand everything we learn. We will also emphasize foundational intellectual dispositions and values that define the disciplined thinker in all fields: intellectual autonomy, intellectual humility, intellectual integrity, intellectual perseverance, intellectual empathy, confidence in reason, and fairmindedness.
What is worth learning is worth learning well, and there is nothing better worth learning than the very process of learning itself - the development, through systematic intellectual work of the arts, habits, and strategies of a DISCIPLINED mind. In this session, we will come to know better how we can reach students with these essential understandings, which are implied by a rich approach to critical thinking in teaching and learning at all levels and in all classes.
Both of the sessions on day one will lay the foundation for the following two days,. Both sessions will introduce you to some of the most basic understandings in critical thinking – namely, how to analyze thinking, how to assess it, and how to develop and foster intellectual virtues or dispositions.
One conceptual set we will focus on is the elements of reasoning, or parts of thinking. These elements or parts are the essential dimensions of reasoning present whenever and wherever reasoning occurs, independent of whether we are reasoning well or poorly. Working together, these elements shape reasoning and provide a general logic to the use of thought. They are presupposed in every subject, discipline, and domain of human thought.
A second conceptual set we will focus on is that of universal intellectual standards. One of the fundamentals of critical thinking is the ability to assess reasoning. To be skilled at assessment requires that we consistently take apart thinking and examine its parts with respect to standards of quality. We do this using criteria based on clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logicalness, and significance. Critical thinkers recognize that whenever they are reasoning, they reason to some purpose (element of reasoning). Implicit goals are built into their thought processes. But their reasoning is improved when they are clear (intellectual standard) about that purpose or goal. Similarly, to reason well, they need to know that - consciously or unconsciously - they are using relevant (intellectual standard: relevance) information (element of reasoning) in their thinking. Furthermore, their reasoning improves if and when they make sure that the information that they are using is accurate (intellectual standard: accuracy).
A third essential conceptual set in critical thinking is that of intellectual virtues or traits. Critical thinking does not entail merely intellectual skills. Rather, it is a way of orienting oneself in the world. It is a way of approaching problems that differs significantly from that which is typical in human life. People may have critical thinking skills and abilities, yet still be unable to enter viewpoints with which they disagree. They may have critical thinking abilities, yet still be unable to analyze the beliefs that guide their behavior. They may have critical thinking abilities, yet still be unable to distinguish between what they know and what they don't know, to persevere through difficult problems and issues, to think fairmindedly, or to stand alone against the crowd. Thus, in developing as a thinker and fostering critical thinking abilities in others, it is important to develop intellectual virtues - virtues of fairmindedness, intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, intellectual courage, intellectual empathy, intellectual autonomy, intellectual integrity, and confidence in reason.
Finally, we will illuminate two intrinsic barriers to critical thinking development: egocentric and sociocentric thought. These natural pathological tendencies will be briefly introduced and explored.
In short, we introduce, on the first day of our academy, the foundations of fairminded critical thinking.