Thinking about Thinking

Critical Thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue, using questioning, arguments and conclusions to form objective, reasoned logical judgements that are well thought out and without bias.

Good Critical Thinkers are:

  • Rational, being able to think clearly and independently about what to do or believe.
  • Analytical, being able to carefully examine and interpret information to understand the logical connections between ideas what it represents and make an informed judgement.
  • Effective communicators, being able to interact and collaborate with others verbally and in writing to explain thinking, express opinions and share ideas to provide solutions to the given issue.
  • Creative, being able to recognize patterns in information, making abstract connections, predictions or determine new solutions.
  • Curious, being able to ask higher order, deeper, more meaningful questions require more developed thinking and more complex answers. Asking higher order questions can develop more abstract thinking and promote the justification of opinions, speculation and hypothesizing.
  • Open minded, being able to analyze information objectively and without bias.
  • Problem Solvers, being able to use questioning (Who, Where, When, What,Why and How) and logical reasoning to evaluate information and determine practical solutions.
  • Reflective, being able to think backwards in time to the root cause of the problem and forwards in time to the consequences of the solution.
  • Bigger Picture Thinkers, being able to break bigger problems into smaller components to create solutions that help to resolve bigger problem. When solutions emerge moving from problem identification to problem solving.

When critically thinking about a problem, it is essential to have good reasoning for your comments and judgements and form your beliefs or conclusions. A good way to critically think about an issue is to organize your information, develop and structure your reasoning, establish your arguments, consider the evidence, identify where assumptions have been made, evaluate any arguments and determine a conclusion.

When critically reading, analyzing a piece of text identify line of reasoning, critically evaluate line of reasoning, identify evidence in the text, evaluating the evidence, questioning surface appearances and assumptions, identifying conclusions and determining if the evidence supports the conclusions.

An argument is a set of statements (premises) that together comprise a reason for a further statement and a conclusion. A good argument has premises that make the conclusion likely to be true, where the argument supports the conclusion. Bad argument premises don’t support critical thinking.

Arguments can either be deductive or ampliative. A deductive argument is when the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion. An ampliative argument is when the truth of the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion. The conclusion is more probable.

When critically analyzing an artwork, it is not enough to simply describe an artwork. The descriptions of the formal elements must be contextualized so that to viewer can understand the influence that each element has on the work as a whole. Formal analysis is where we reflect on the context and meaning, analyze the subject matter, themes, issues, narratives, stories and ideas and look more closely at the form that the artist has produced, such as line, shape, colour, texture, composition, expression, content and meaning.

Those who effectively critically analyze artwork:

  • Describe the artwork, identifying styles and formal elements, genre, meaning and thinking about the artwork in a wider context.
  • Analyze the artwork, thinking about the composition and the relationships between the elements.
  • Interpret the artwork, looking at what the artwork is about, how it makes them feel, the mood of the artwork, what the artist was trying to say, identifying symbols, metaphors, context and meaning and thinking about what it means to them as a viewer.
  • Judge the artwork, reflecting on the strengths, weaknesses, the way the ideas are communicated, how the artwork is viewed in the wider community, likes, dislikes and learning.
  • Evaluate the artwork, reflecting on how the artwork has changed their perceptions, the level of technical, conceptual and composition skill, other qualities found and the effectiveness of the piece and what premise their judgements are based upon.

Bibliography

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