No matter what we do we cannot escape our thinking. Whether we are working through a complex problem on the job, communicating with our spouses, trying to reason with our children, or even attempting to relax on our day off, our thinking is always functioning with us, determining how we see things, what the world looks like to us. Whether we recognize it or not, whether it be ours or someone else's, thinking is the most significant determinant of the quality of our lives. It is our thinking that determines the extent to which we can reason well through complex problems. It is our thinking that determines the extent to which we think through the implications of the decisions we make. It is our thinking that determines whether we can identify the assumptions we are making, and whether we should question those assumptions. Thinking is so much a part of the human experience that it is virtually impossible to imagine the human separate from thinking. In other words, because we continually think, we take for granted the phenomenon of our "thinking." Not only do we take the fact that we think for granted, but we also tend to assume that the individual thinking that we do basically works well for us. We do not generally question our thinking. Rather we tend to live with the notion that our thinking is fine, "thank you very much." This is even true when the quality of our lives is poor.
A central purpose of the workshops outlined below is to clarify what is meant by the concept of critical thinking and develop practical ways to infuse critical thought into our professional work both individually and institutionally.
Leadership Seminars at Your Business
We suggest that you take a long-term approach to change. We can work with you on a plan that is right for your organization. But you need to start somewhere. And the best place to start is with a sequence of 2-day seminars.
Here is a sequence we suggest for business leaders and managers. Each is a 2-day seminar:
- Recognizing the Importance of Critical Thinking in Business. This seminar focuses on introducing the foundations of critical thinking, including how to take your thinking apart and assess it for quality, and how to apply critical thinking concepts and principles to your work on a daily basis.
- Using the Tools of Critical Thinking to Make Better Decisions. This seminar focuses on deepening your understanding of the concepts and principles of critical thinking and applying them to decision-making at work.
- Understanding the Barriers to Critical Thinking. This seminar focuses on the natural workings of the human mind that impede our ability (as humans) to reason at the highest level of quality.
- Learning the Art of Analysis. This seminar expands on the elements of reasoning that were introduced in the first seminar. You will be in engaged in many activities focused on analyzing reasoning in numerous everyday work situations - both your own reasoning as well as the reasoning of others.
- Learning the Art of Assessing Thought. This seminar expands on the introduction of intellectual standards for thought which were introduced in the first seminar. You will learn how to apply these standards to your thought and in your work at all levels. You will also learn to apply these standards to the reasoning of others.
| Listen to an interview with Dr. Richard Paul - on the Mark Deo program - about critical thinking and small business decision making. |
| (please go to minute 22.46 to begin Dr. Paul's interview) |
| Click here to download mp3 |
The Objectives of Our Seminars
Our primary objective in all our seminars and training is two-fold and practical:
1) to introduce business leaders and managers to the basic principles of critical thinking (so that you become clear about what it is and is not);
2) help you discover ways and means for using critical thinking as a set of tools for thinking deeply through the question, issues, and problems you face in your work and/or life.
The Mechanics of Seminars
Our professional development seminars are organized on the basis of the assumption that one learns critical thinking by doing critical thinking. Participants will therefore be engaged in a variety of activities in which they will, in effect, be thinking critically about their own thinking. They will use that analysis to disentangle the problems and issues they face in their work and personal life. We will design, in other words, a sequence of tasks that will facilitate participants’’ thinking through what critical thinking is and how to use it to better think through complex problems on the job and in everyday life.
Some Key Concepts Covered in the Seminars
For you to learn to reason well through the complex problems and questions you face on the job, you will need to learn to appreciate the full logic of what they are focused on. Every business, every job, every task involves:
For you to function well in your work, you need to be able to do second-order thinking. You need to become skilled in thinking about thinking while thinking. You need to assess your thinking (and the thinking of others) using basic intellectual standards (standards such as clarity, accuracy, relevant, precision, logic, and significance). In other words, you will need to learn to do the following:
- goals and objectives (which define what we are after)
- questions and problems (which define what we must answer or solve)
- information and data (which we need to answer our questions & solve our problems)
- modes of interpreting or judging information (which we need to come to conclusions)
- concepts and ideas (which we need to organize and make sense of the information we have)
- key assumptions (that we use as starting points in our thinking)
- point of view (which enables us to see things in a certain light or perspective).
- Identify goals and purposes
- Gather relevant information
- Formulate questions clearly and precisely
- Determine (and evaluate) the assumptions you are making
- Think through the implications of the decisions you make
- Make logical and accurate inferences and interpretations
- Clearly articulate the concepts or ideas guiding your thinking
- Consider alternate ways of looking at situations
These are some of the key concepts we focus on in our seminars. We introduce you to the basic components of critical thinking, and ways to apply those foundations to the problems you face in your work. In all professional development seminars, we present critical thinking skills, insights, and values integral to sound and effective thinking. We focus, therefore, on helping you understand the work you do as involving systems of logical relationships, organized sets of concepts, principles, and understandings you must master in order to think well on the job.
We teach you how to understand thoughts, feelings, and desires as interrelated functions of the mind operating in a dynamic relationship to one another. When you understand these relationships, you understand that desires and emotions emerge from thoughts, just as thoughts are influenced by our desires and emotions. When you experience negative emotions, you will be able to identify and modify the thinking that is governing those emotions, and through that act, modify the emotions themselves. Critical thinking enables you to solve emotional as well as cognitive problems.
Basic Objectives of Foundational Seminars in Critical Thinking
- Understanding the pervasive role of thinking in human life.
- Understanding the importance of developing higher order thinking to replace lower order thinking in order to reason well through complex issues on the job.
- Understanding critical thinking as the key to high quality thinking within any domain of thought or work.
- Understanding how to analyze thinking by focusing on its parts or elements, and how to apply understanding of the elements of reasoning to workplace decisions and problems.
- Understanding the importance of universal intellectual standards in thinking, and how to apply these standards to workplace decisions and the process of thinking through problems.
- Understanding the fundamental barriers to critical thinking development
- Understanding the relationship between thinking, feelings and desires
- Seeing the development of critical thinking as unfolding in stages, and involving deep commitment on the part of the learner.
- Understanding the role of assessment thinking.
- Using categories of questions as a tool for learning.
- Beginning to understand how to ask high quality questions.
The above division of topics is not absolute. These objectives overlap.
Time and Costs
Call the Foundation for more details and to discuss costs of professional development workshops and seminars. Or email Rachael Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a deeper understanding of critical thinking and its application to business issues and decisions, see Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life.