Lipman (2008) describes the criteria used when thinking critically as being “part of the apparatus of rationality” which function dynamically and critically when they are “at work in the process of inquiry” (p. 429). Several general criteria are listed in the reading which might be used when thinking critically and making judgements (p. 428) such as standards, laws, principles and ideals. These are further refined depending on the context in which the critical thinking is taking place, while ensuring stereotyping, bias and prejudice are understood and prevented from negatively affecting the judgements made (Lipman, 2008, p. 430).
Clearly, utilising criteria when thinking critically is an essential element of making judgements that can withstand rigorous professional critiquing. As Lipman (2008) points out, critical thinking is reliable as a result of it both employing criteria and being able to be assessed by self and others through appeal to further criteria (Lipman, 2008, p. 428). In other words, critical thinkers are always appraising their own thought processes and those employed by their peers when thinking. This critical reflection of one’s own thought processes and those of others will act to further improve the specific critical-thinking processes being employed through a process of self-correction (as long as the methods used to self-reflect are critical in themselves!).
To me, critical thinking as outlined by Lipman (2008) forms the foundation of my undertakings as both a teacher and student. Case in point: as I write this, I am reflecting on my progress against the criteria as contained within the instructions for this task and those that I have created myself as a standard for my work. Unfortunately, I do not meet all those criteria (word count +350, few references). MENTAL NOTE TO SELF.
Being a student again has greatly affected my teaching; I now strive to provide my students with as many opportunities as possible to think critically and reflect. Of particular interest to me in this regard in the Lipman (2008) reading was the section on “practical reasoning behaviours that signify closures” (p. 431). I aim to refer to these regularly to remind myself of those behaviours that are associated with critical thinking so as to increase the opportunities my students have for honing this crucial skill.
Lipman, M. (2008). Education for critical thinking. In R. Curren (Ed.), Philosophy of Education (pp. 427-434). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Check out these great videos on critical thinking: