"I Never Thought Like This Before!": Apprenticing Critical Thinking(1)
Mark R. Stoner
California State University, Sacramento
Key Words: abduction, analysis, context, critical thinking, description, dormative principle, evaluation, information, interpretation, tautology, theory, stereoscopic view.
The discourse surrounding the concept of critical thinking suggests that critical thinking is a singular method of thinking about specific things or problems. We say things like, "We need to have students engage in critical thinking about the problems of, say, racism or travelers' rights, or use of leisure time; about why algebra is useful, or how animals evolve, or the effects of systemic disruptions in ecosystems," and so on. The implication is that critical thinking is accomplished through the application of a standard set of procedures. For example, when we look at the literature from the Center for Critical Thinking (Sonoma State), the presentation of critical thinking is as a singular process consisting of "elements," "traits," and "criteria" that is applied to problem-solving. As Richard Paul states, "We think critically when we have at least one problem to solve. One is not doing good critical thinking, therefore, if one is not solving any problems. . . . Thinking our way through a problem to a solution, then, is critical thinking, not something else." (Paul)(2) The presentation suggests that critical thinking is the application of a series of procedures to specific objects of interest. The problem with this presentation is that it masks the complexity of critical thinking as well as the reflexive impact of the subject and its context on the thinker's thinking. Critical thinking is not lineal whereby the sequence does not return to its starting point(3). Rather, I argue that it is a complex and dynamic process that consists of multiple types of critical thinking which must be related to each other to provide insight about that part of reality under analysis. Critical thinking is grounded, then, in comparisons of all sorts and the discovery of relationships between objects and ideas. Critical thinking, then to add to Paul's characterization, leads us to solutions to problems and changes in how we think about the world.
The Raw Material of Thinking
Gregory Bateson argues in Mind and Nature that what we think about is "information"which is "news of difference." (4) That is, at its most basic level, thinking about the world stems from some difference in sensation-a change of condition-that is noticeable. This is an important notion that our students often have difficulty grasping. For us to think, and consequently generate new insight or knowledge, we must compare conditions or ideas in some fashion. The means of comparison are many-fold. For example, I know I burned my hand by comparing its condition at T1 with its condition at T2 (after touching the burner on the stove). The "news of difference" I use is the information discovered in the feelings, as well as the condition, and even the smell of my hand. Another example, of a different sort, would be the presentation of one person's perspective on a topic of argument against another's. The two perspectives provide information about experience, values, interpretation of experience, etc., and it is this "news of difference" that serves as the information we use to understand the world. What is important to understand is that insight can only generated from a stereoscopic view of the world. Without some change, or news of difference, we are unable to detect our environment. We become habituated or desensitized just as we lose a sense of motion in a jet plane until it speeds up or slows down-that is news of difference, or information, that we can use to understand our movement through space.
Finally, a stereoscopic view provides us with different sorts of information, that when combined, allow comprehension of an object in way not possible using only one view. For example, the slightly different perspective provided by our two eyes permits perception of depth which is a different dimension from that which either eye alone provides. The following discussion presents a model of critical thinking that affords a number of stereoscopic perspectives which can be used in a variety of contexts and disciplines.
A Stereoscopic Model:
Although the term "stereoscopic" suggests two points of view, and only two, the following model presents a number of kinds of thinking that interact in a variety of stereoscopic combinations; the most obvious are those found in the overlaps of the various circles.
Description entails looking closely at an object or subject of study. It is what a scientist does when confronting something new. Description as a kind of critical thinking is a way of engaging a new subject by "seeing what is there." Obviously, no empirical study can be conducted without rigorous observation /description. Of course, description will be limited by the threshold of acuity of the investigator. Although sometimes that threshold has physical limitations due to the sensory apparatus of the investigator, or due to the nature of the object being studied (too small, too distant, etc.), many times the threshold of acuity can be shifted by training, experience, or practice. The act of describing can be "stereoscopic" at the most basic level of using two eyes which provide two slightly different perceptions of the subject. Most likely the observer will need to sort through previous experience in order to compare the present object to something else.
An excellent illustration of how one learns to critically describe is found in the memoirs of Samuel Scudder (1874) regarding his training as a scientist by Louis Agassiz.(5) Agassiz's first lesson for Scudder was to "Take this fish, and look at it; we call it a haemulon: by and by I will ask you what you have seen." Scudder dutifully did as he was told by looking at the smelly specimen as carefully as he knew how. "In ten minutes," Scudder writes, "I had seen all that could be seen in that fish, and started in search of the Professor . . . ." He found that Agassiz had left the building and would not return for some time, so Scudder went back to his bench, and bent over the fish for the rest of the morning, examining it from every possible angle. After lunch, he found that Agassiz would be gone for several more hours. Scudder writes, "Slowly I drew forth that hideous fish, and with a feeling of desperation again looked at it. I might not use a magnifying-glass; instruments of all kinds were interdicted. My two hands, my two eyes, and the fish: it seemed a most limited field."(6) Scudder pushed his finger in the mouth, felt the teeth, counted scales and even drew a sketch of the specimen. Finally Agassiz returned and asked, "Well, what is it like?"(7) After outlining in detail all the discrete observations made over the previous six hours, Agassiz replied, "You have not looked very carefully; why, you haven't even seen one of the most conspicuous features of the animal, which is as plainly before your eyes as the fish itself; look again, look again!"
Scudder persisted and began to discover "one new thing after another, until I saw how just the Professor's criticism had been." At the end of the day Agassiz sent him home with the promise of "an examination" regarding the fish before looking at it again. Scudder spent a troubled evening thinking about what he saw, and the next morning, in response to his teacher's question said, "Do you perhaps mean that the fish has symmetrical sides with paired organs?" "Of course! Of course!" exclaimed the professor. When Scudder asked what he should do next, Agassiz said, "Oh, look at your fish!" and left. The lesson went on for three days with Scudder making new discoveries each day. Then, "on the fourth day, a second fish of the same group was placed beside the first, and [Scudder] was bidden to point out the resemblances and differences between the two; another and another followed until the entire family lay before [him] . . . ." (8) Scudder concluded that given "the description of the various parts, Agassiz's training in the method of observing facts and their orderly arrangement was ever accompanied by the urgent exhortation not to be content with them. "Facts are stupid things," he would say, "until brought into connection with some general law" (my emphasis).(9)
Given Scudder's success on his first exam, he learned that it is important to see precisely and in detail, but also to see what is connected to what. Consequently, a second factor in description is attention to relevant elements in that which is being studied. As an investigator becomes more competent in observing and describing an object of study, that person learns not only to see more precisely, but also learns what to look for. That is, as observers grow more expert, they can describe more precisely those elements of the object that are relevant and important; the decision as to what is important is determined by context. As each new fish was added to Scudder's tray, each served to define and expand the context of the facts Scudder had collected.
As soon as context is mentioned, the connection between description
and analysis is activated, moving us into the overlap between them pictured
in Figure 1. Analysis entails the discovery of relationships
between elements observed. According to both Agassiz and Bateson, simply
noting that elements x, y, and z exist, does little for understanding.
Therefore, the investigator must actively search for connections between
relevant elements and the apprehension of patterns of relationships. The
ability to describe and apprehend patterns is affected by the number and
kind of templates or theories that the investigator already possesses.
Theory acts as a filter, screening out irrelevant data, and suggesting
patterned relationships between data. In a sense, we have to know something
to know something else. The process of description/analysis is a place
where mistakes of logic can be made if observers do not monitor their thinking
because the act of comparison may shift logical levels. Bateson calls the
process "abduction."(10) I've elaborated
Bateson's idea a bit in the graphic below, Figure 2. The example models
how message analysts would think about a speech.
Abduction occurs when patterns emergent in apparently similar cases are compared and the "news of difference" noted. In the area of speech or message analysis, a critic, when confronted with a new and complex message often has no ready-made method for analyzing it. So, commonly, a critic begins by looking for a comparative speech or type of speech about which something is already known. For example, when President Clinton made his infamous "apology" on August 18, 1998 regarding Ken Starr's investigation of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky (this corresponds to "Text A" in Figure 2), message analysts were, at least momentarily, taken aback. Most people expected an "apology" by the President marked by contrition, but what the audience received was a minimal acknowledgment of minor wrong-doing, errors of judgment, followed by a fairly substantive rebuttal to those Clinton perceived as his attackers. In order to make sense of this unexpected structure, many analysts, having described the message so they knew its essential components, began to ask, "What other message/s is this message like?" Once a point of comparison was found, say, for example, the common pattern of the legal brief (this corresponds to "Text B" above), then the "principles of operation" of the brief, which are generally known, can be applied to Clinton's speech. The critic then examines the "fit" of those principles and learns something about the speech by discovering what was like a legal brief and what wasn't. The differences provide an analyst with information about the nature of the message under examination. Notice that, in order to learn something about A, a comparison needed to be made to something else, B in this illustration. Also, notice that the message analyst had to "see" not only two different messages, but also had to think at two different logical levels-level 1 featured the elements of the messages and level 2 featured the principles of operation between those elements. This allowed an inference to be made about what principles may be operating in Text A and, with their application, the critic is able to come to some conclusion about a text that was, at one point, inaccessible because of the fact it seemed to be a completely new event. We have already seen an example in the area of science in the narrative about Samuel Scudder's training. As soon as he had described the "haemulon," Agassiz asked him, "What is it like?" The question was designed to move Scudder from logical level 1 to logical 2 on the model. The familiar or known point of comparison, then allowed Scudder to shift logical levels and begin to think, at least hypothetically about the "unknown" object in front of him. The principles of thinking are essentially the same in all fields.(11) When abduction occurs, at least two related stereoscopic views obtain-the simple comparison of objects, then the more abstract comparison of principles of operation.
The act of analysis, as Figure 1 suggests, also anticipates interpretation. Typically, a critical thinker has a perspective or point of view that guides what is understood to be relevant and determines what counts as the context that matters in any particular case. Bateson calls this a "tautology"(12), but I prefer the word "theory." According to Bateson, "an explanation is a mapping of pieces of a description onto a tautology, and an explanation becomes acceptable to the degree that one is willing and able to accept the links of the tautology."(13) So, it is by way of tautology or theory that one connects analysis and interpretation. This point of overlap indicates a second stereoscope used by critical thinkers to be used as necessary.
For example, if the Clinton speech analysis had been a study of some physical phenomenon rather than a human behavior, the investigator may stop after having completed description/analysis. Observations were completed and analyzed and some new information was generated by the thinking process. However, even scientists must often push on to interpreting findings. Interpretation, as a third kind of critical thinking, differs from both description and analysis. Interpretation is marked by the attribution of meaning to patterns discovered. In the sciences, a classic example of interpretation was Percival Lowell's conclusion that a Planet X existed beyond the known solar system. Lowell interpreted patterns he discovered in data he collected about the movements of observable planets. Given shifts in the light arriving from deep space, and subtle movements of planets within observed orbits, Lowell interpreted the data to mean another planet caused those particular aberrations. Sure enough, on February 18, 1930, Clyde Tombaugh trained his telescope on that part of the sky Lowell's calculations suggested a planet existed, and took the first photograph of Pluto. Interpretation is often the point of "pay-off" in critical thinking. As Bateson argued, description alone provides no links between parts; but explanation without specific descriptors provide no insight. Both kinds of thinking are necessary to generate knowledge or insight.
Interpretation, as kind of critical thinking, is marked, too, by the construction of a rationale or argument which articulates the learning achieved via description/analysis. Interpretation is connected to analysis in that the tautology or theory used to discern the parts of the subject and their relationships is the foundation for articulating insights. Theory provides the assumptions, vocabulary and logic by which one says something about an object of study. Interpretation is a particularly important area of thinking because, as noted above, it is where critical work pays off. However, interpretation is a kind of critical thinking that is vulnerable to sloppiness or laziness in thinking. Bateson argues that the result of sloppy thinking is the use of "dormative principles" to explain data generated in analysis.(14) The example Bateson uses is from Moliere's play, Le Malade Imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid). In a satire of a medieval doctoral exam, the candidate is asked to explain why opium puts people to sleep. The candidate confidently answers, "Because, learned doctors, it contains a dormative principle." While this may appear for a moment to explain why opium puts people to sleep, if an explanation makes connections between two or more factors, then the candidate's statement clearly is not explanatory. This kind of thinking is common, especially among those who are not skilled critical thinkers. For example, when students are attempting to explain the persuasive power of a particular message, they often write statements like this: "Lincoln was a successful speaker because he had credibility." Or "Martin Luther King was effective as a speaker because he used emotional appeals." These are appeals to dormative principles because they fail to make connections between parts of the process of communication and they fail to provide insight or meaning about the communication event even though they are explanatory in their intent. However, such statements are often accepted by audiences that do not demand that analysis/interpretation be logical and insightful. Interpretation is that part of the critical thinking process wherein dormative explanations can be rooted out; it is also that part of the process whereby valuable, interesting and significant knowledge is articulated.
Depending on the goals of the critical thinker, evaluation may or may not be made regarding the subject of study. Certainly, a physicist analyzing the trajectory of a cannon shell has no reason to say, "That was a good parabola described by the shell's flight." The physicist may attribute meaning to the parabola described (especially if it is anomalous!), but will never evaluate it. However, those who study any sort of human behavior may find analysis/evaluation to be an important area to think about. Evaluation is marked by application of some criteria to the findings of analysis leading to a judgment. In order for evaluation to be insightful, the criteria must be relevant to the theory/tautology used in the analysis as well as to the context of the subject of study. For example, I had a student judge George Washington's first inaugural speech as inappropriate and ineffective because Washington did not feature women's issues!
Obviously, the student's criteria were not sensitive to the historical and cultural context of Washington's address. Since the criteria were not appropriate, no insight was gained about Washington's communication effort.
Evaluation is a special category of interpretation marked by judgment based on relevant criteria. In the "arts," evaluation, as critical thinking, may be made regarding both the method of creation as well as the product of creation. For example, an art critic may judge the medium chosen by an artist, or the technique used to manipulate the medium, or the critic may judge the finished work itself. Since choices by people are made in each of these areas, each choice invites interpretation by a critical analyst; any choice may be invested with meaning and its meaning may be evaluated. By contrast, in the sciences, critical thinking as evaluation is only applied to the choices of method or the skills of implementing it exhibited by the scientist.
"Critical thinking" is a complex cognitive process comprised of a number of different types of thinking that are intimately related to each other. The insight Bateson provides is that knowledge is generated by contrasts of some sort: contrasts of sensation, perception, or logical categories. Description alone, no matter how precise, is of little value until relationships or patterns are discovered between the elements are articulated. New knowledge may be created by interpreting or attributing meaning to those patterns. In some contexts and when doing critical thinking for certain purposes, evaluation, as a specific form of interpretation, may be the end of the study. The "stereoscopic" dynamic of this model helps students understand the need for doing more than just describing (or in many instances merely "retelling" the object), analyzing or interpreting/evaluating, in isolation, any object of study. Each kind of thinking needs to be overlapped with another kind of thinking to provide a stereoscopic view of the object of study.
Apprenticing Critical Thinking(15)
Rather than duplicate the description of apprenticeship provided by Collins et al., I will simply present three basic operating principles of cognitive apprenticeship that I have found to be central to facilitating critical thinking in students: ordering experiences, providing opportunities for students to examine and discuss each others' work, and encouraging reflection by individuals on their own work.
An apprenticeship, as a learning experience, is marked by a graduated curriculum of experiences created by an expert for a novice. If you've taken golf or skiing lessons, you've experienced a form of apprenticeship. The ordering of experiences can be quite different whereby in some cases, one is taught how to do something from beginning to end (say, throwing a pot), and in other cases, from end to beginning (in tailoring novices may start at the end in doing simple finish work, then move to sewing, then to cutting out a garment).(16) How you order the curriculum depends on the task. In the case of critical thinking, an inherent logic, which seems to be grounded in the brain's need for certain information in certain order, seems to obtain. That is, as Paul has pointed out, one cannot think critically until one has something to think about. And as Bateson has made clear, one must collect some "news of difference" to have something about which to think. So, description becomes the logical starting point. Students must be taught not only to see, but what to see in any particular discipline. As we saw above, this was Professor Agassiz's starting point in his apprenticeship of Samuel Scudder.
In my area of message analysis (rhetorical criticism), I help students learn what to look for by providing them with some "search models" to guide their examination of a text. This is a presentation of theory that features nouns (e.g. the concepts that allow an analyst to name parts of a message.) The process of description or naming, for many students, leads them naturally to analysis wherein they apprehend the relationship of parts, which is essential to interpretation. Some students don't have the habit of mind of looking for connections for the purpose of explanation, so it is important that they see such a move modeled. I can't speculate on all the possible reasons why some students are satisfied with description, and I don't think, at this point, there is any single explanation. Nevertheless, what students do need are guided experiences wherein they are led to discover connections between observations. The logic of the order of the curriculum is obvious on its face for some; it must be modeled and explained for others.
As mentioned above, discovery of connections between parts leads some students directly to interpret or attribute meaning to those connections. For some students of message analysis, the persuasive elements uncovered as operating in a message (from description), and the ways those elements have been put together by a message maker, be it a great speaker, writer, film or video director (from analysis), have meaning because they represent choices made by a person. As a result inferences can be made about the meaning of the message maker's choices, which amounts to interpretation; inferences about the value, or quality of the message are evaluation. Since there is a natural progression of thought, that's how we structure the apprenticeship for students. We try to teach them each kind of thinking, in turn, relying on the natural pull of the next step to motivate learning. Your may find that the area in which you teach requires a different pattern. Whatever pattern you choose will be grounded in your expertise in that area.
A second, and very important element of apprenticeship that we think is essential is described by Rogoff:
Furthermore, the apprenticeship model has the value of including more people than a single expert and a single novice; the apprenticeship system often involves a group of novices (peers) who serve as resources for one another in exploring the new domain and aiding and challenging one another. Among themselves, the novices are likely to differ usefully in expertise as well. The 'master,' or expert is relatively more skilled than the novices, with a broader vision of the important features of the culturally valued activity. However, the expert too is still developing breadth and depth of skill and understanding in the process of carrying out the activity and guiding others in it. Hence the model provided by apprenticeship is one of active learners in a community of people who support, challenge, and guide novices as they increasingly participate in skilled, valued sociocultural activity.(17)The necessity for novices to talk with each other about their work cannot be overstated. As Rogoff correctly notes, novices vary in their ability and the development of "sub-apprenticeships" is extremely valuable when teaching a complex competency. We often see students gravitating, for tutoring, to other students that they perceive to be more skilled. Sometimes, the student tutors are better able to understand the problem their peer is facing than we are; they are more able to find explanations or provide models that resonate with the struggling student than we could. Quite often, students report that their inspiration for pushing through a difficult task came from a peer.
A related and essential part of apprenticeship includes experts modeling for students how to talk through a problem. You may want to arrange an occasional class session with a colleague whereby you talk with each other about how to think about a problem in your area in front of the students. Such an activity can make experts' patterns of thinking explicit. When talking with a colleague in front of students, the "stereoscopic" view of a subject is patently clear-especially when you disagree and have to think your way to a solution! Admittedly, this can be a risky, but if the class has been prepared, students draw a great deal of learning from seeing "behind the scenes" of a professional's work. Students are often shocked (and greatly relieved) to learn that their teachers occasionally get stumped, too. The lessons learned from observing an expert think him or herself out of what turned out to be a blind alley may do more to clarify the nature of critical thinking in your discipline than any number of perfect models may afford.
Finally, students need opportunity to reflect on their work. That is, they need guided experiences wherein they are taught to monitor their own thinking processes. This meta-cognitive work is essential if students are to gain control over their own thinking. Once students become aware of the complex and systematic nature of critical thinking, they are better able to monitor, and correct their own thinking. It is when students achieve this realization that they say, "I never thought like this before!" The fact is, they have, but were not aware of what they were doing nor were they able to monitor their thinking. Although we have students regularly reflect on their thinking by comparing their work to expert models or selected student models, the most productive reflection comes from a pre-test/post-test exercise.
At the end of the first day of class, we give the students a short but
important text to analyze-something like the Gettysburg Address, Washington's
First Inaugural, Lincoln's Second Inaugural; something brief, accessible
and significant. The task is to, "Write as thorough an analysis of this
text that you can." We give the students a week to complete the essay which
we collect and keep for the students. We don't grade the essay; in fact,
we make no comment on it at all. At the end of the semester, students have
two assignments: the first is the final exam which is a study of the same
piece examined in the pre-test. At this point, the students are on their
own-all "scaffolding" has been "faded."(18)
The second assignment asks students to examine their original essay from
their more expert position at the end of the semester. We return the original
essay to the students and tell them that after they have completed their
preparation for the final (which they write in class), they are to examine
their first essay and compare their thinking processes and products
with what they were able to do at the end of the semester. The reflection
papers reveal significant insight about how students have internalized
the skills of critical thinking. Even the weakest students are able specifically
identify problems in their naive thinking habits at the start of the semester,
as revealed in their pre-test essays, compare those habits with those they
value and use at the end of the semester and interpret that change.(19)
For example, one student made this comparison between her first and last
|1 I stated the obvious purpose.||I described the piece generally and specifically where it supported my ideas.|
|2 I barely described the piece; I said what and why.
|I picked out a few logical and emotional style devices that supported my claim and analyzed them.|
|4 I criticized our government for breaking the contract 5(Declaration of Independence) that formed it.||I made more insightful claim about the purpose of the message.|
|6 I evaluated the piece by calling it a "treasure."||I described the rhetorical situation.|
|7 I questioned some word choices||I supported an interpretation of the purpose of this piece.|
|8 No interpretation.||I evaluated the piece not by what I think entirely, but by some criteria.|
|9 No rhetorical situation [context].|
|10 No main point.|
These comments suggest increased consciousness on the part of the student regarding what she was doing and how she was doing it as a critical thinker. Her comments on the post-test at lines 1-2, indicate an understanding that relevance is an essential criterion for deciding what to think about. At post-test line 6, the reference to the rhetorical situation indicates that the student made connections between the message being analyzed and its context. Most importantly, at post-test, lines 4 and 5, the student indicates her awareness of the insights to be gained via "stereoscopic thinking"-she attended to "news of difference" elicited by making a variety of comparisons (text and context; descriptive and analytical analysis, and so on).
Another student noted the following regarding her behavior as a critic
in the post-test: "describe[ed] and explain[ed] effect of devices such
as tone, parallelism, syllogism, and arrangement; interpreted why these
devices were used and the rhetor's intent."
Taken together, the students' reflections on the process of criticism serve to synthesize their learnings and document the change in thinking they have managed to install through their work during the semester. Often students recognize the profundity of the changes they see in themselves and note that. For example, a student wrote, ". . . I changed my opinion on the Declaration. After my second analysis, I realized that it was a fitting response to the rhetorical situation. For this improvement, I give myself a pat on the back . . . ." The statement is important because this student learned the significance of context as it relates to message creation and consumption. In fact, her study made interesting and important connections between the text of the Declaration of Independence and the economic, social and political landscape in both the colonies and Britain at the time. She was able to point to specific elements of the text that seemed to be shaped for both colonial and British audiences and explain how those elements were effectively used. By contrast, her first study treated the "audience" as a single entity and assumed a simplistic and value-laden notion of the context that reflected the kind of description of the American revolution one may see in an elementary school history lesson. Here is a student who has some awareness of the critical thinking process, and, as I mentioned at the beginning of the essay, the consequence is a change in how she thinks about the world.
Apprenticing thinking is not a simple affair. Getting students to be aware of the need for a stereoscopic view of any object, phenomenon, problem, or experience is a challenge. Almost daily, we observe students who still work from an ego-centric perspective. They struggle with the notion that it is important to examine any problem from perspectives other than their own. Since many are bright folks, their motto seems to be "Veni, Vidi, Vici!" Recall Samuel Scudder's comment "In ten minutes, I had seen all that could be seen in that fish, and started in search of the Professor . . . ." In his mind, Scudder had "arrived, saw, and conquered" in ten minutes. Getting students, first, to slow down and systematically describe the object, text, or problem, then analyze it before interpreting or evaluating causes them to think in new ways; ways they had never consciously thought before. The model presented above (Figure 1) provides a map of the thinking process that naturally develops new perspectives because each kind of thinking facilitates a new view of any problem. When those views are combined, description/analysis, analysis/interpretation, or analysis/evaluation, "news of difference"emerges and becomes the material about which we think.
Although there are some basic principles of ordering the curriculum, providing opportunities to compare work, and reflecting on what they have done, among others, it remains for each of us to think carefully about how the body of knowledge in each of our disciplines is constructed. This may require some work in observing how you and your colleagues think about significant problems. Most, if not all, journal articles are devoted to the products of professionals' thinking, not the process. I have found that our discipline's textbooks reveal little to students about how to think critically within our discipline. (I suspect that other disciplines reflect the same condition.) Although some students seem to naturally and easily learn disciplinary patterns of thinking, I believe there is much to be gained by explicitly identifying the habits of mind of expert thinkers and inducting students into not just the content of the our disciplines, but the cognitive processes by which content (product) is created. In the knowledge-based environment our students will be living, we will not only increase their success by apprenticing critical thinking, but by focusing attention on the processes of thinking, we will give them tools for constant improvement of both process and product.
1. Presented at the 12th Annual Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching--West. Teaching with [a] Difference, March 3-5, 2000
2. Paul, Richard. "Critical Thinking: Basic Questions and Answers" Think (April 1992). Available: http://www.criticalthinking.org/University/univlibrary/questions.nclk 1/14/2000.
3. Bateson, Gregory. Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1979, p. 247.
4. Ibid, p.72 ff.
5. Scudder, Samuel H. "How Agassiz Taught Professor Scudder," in Cooper, Lane, Louis Agassiz as a Teacher: Illustrative Extracts on His Method of Instruction. Ithaca, NY: The Comstock Publishing Co., 1917, pp. 40-48.
6. This exemplifies Bateson's notion of "stereoscopic vision." Scudder used his two eyes and two hands to gather information about the fish. At this level, we are featuring the physiological apparatus of two eyes scanning the same object, and due to their slightly different placement, they allow slightly different, but simultaneous, perspectives on the object which provide information. Comparison of the data from sight and touch provide another stereoscopic view, and consequently, more information.
7. This is an interesting question: it indicates Agassiz's understanding that Scudder could only make sense of the specimen as it related to something else-a stereoscopic vision. Now, however, the comparison is at a new logical level having shifted from the kind of information gained from the senses, to the kind of information gained from comparing present experience to stored experience. Not only does this provide a new source of information, but the shift now adds context (and meaning) to the information gathered via the senses.
8. At this point, the level of comparison is shifted again. The addition of comparable fish first moved Scudder back a point similar to the moment when he encountered the first fish. However, each new addition also adds to the context of the previous ones creating context for the one added . Given the additional fish, Scudder's thinking no doubt changed his thinking since, with new information, he had to reclassify and reorganize previous observations and conclusions drawn about earlier specimens. We can infer this since Scudder was given the entire family of fish to observe which includes the more specific categories of genus and species. With increasing amounts of information, Scudder would be able to re-classify fish he had erroneously classified previously. This is a good example of our assertion above that critical thinking not only aids us in solving problems, but it changes our thinking.
9. Bateson would probably agree. Comparison of "fact" to "law" provides a stereoscopic view and "news of difference" or information, albeit of a different logical type than that provided by two eyes.
10. Bateson, Gregory. Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1979, p. 153-155.
11. Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of the Mind. San Francisco: Chandler Publishing, 1972, p. 74.
12. Ibid., pp. 85-90.
13. Ibid., p.89.
14. Ibid., 90-91.
15. For a fairly complete, yet concise, description of the apprenticeship model, I highly recommend Collins, Allan, John Seely Brown and Susan E. Newman. "Cognitive Apprenticeship: Teaching the Crafts of Reading, Writing, and Mathematics," in Resnick, Lauren B., ed. Knowing, Learning and Instruction: Essays in Honor of Robert Glaser. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1989, pp. 453-494.
16. Rogoff, Barbara. Apprenticeship in Thinking: Cognitive Development in Social Context. New York: Oxford UP, 1990, p. 90.
17. Ibid., p. 39.
18. Collins, et al., p.482. "Scaffolding refers to the supports the teacher provides to help the student carry out the task." Supports may be of many kinds: guiding questions, suggestions, cues, physical supports, etc. "Fading consists of the gradual removal of supports until students are on their own."
19. Notice how this pattern fits the flow of the model presented. The essential work of the assignment is in the comparison between first and last analyses-a stereoscopic view of their own thinking.