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Making Critical Thinking Intuitive

Teaching For Intuitive Understanding

The meaning of “intuitive” we are using in this chapter makes no reference to a mysterious power of the mind, but rather to the phenomenon of “quick and ready insight” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary). This sense of the word is connected to the everyday fact that we can learn concepts at various levels of depth. When, for example, we memorize an abstract definition of a word and do not learn how to apply it effectively in a wide variety of situations, we end up without an intuitive foundation for our understanding. We lack the insight, in other words, into how, when, and why it applies. Children may know that the word ‘democracy’ means “a government in which the people rule”, but may not be able to tell whether they are behaving “democratically” on the playground. They may know what the word ‘cruel’ means, but they may not recognize that they are being cruel in mocking a handicapped student.

Helping students to develop critical thinking intuitions is, then, helping them gain the practical insights necessary for a quick and ready application of concepts to cases in a large array of circumstances.
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