By: Megan Prats
For years now, the 2learn® Method’s focus of critical thinking has been to define the elements that allow the student to reach the infinite landscape of the infinite realm of knowledge. However, finding the ideas are only the first step to being able to realize the benefit of critical thinking – finding a good answer to any problem. The second step is how the student takes those ideas and analyzes them. You can think of the second step as the machine part of the production process. The elements of critical thinking collect the raw materials, and the tools of the critical thinker allow those materials to be processed to make the end product – good answer(s). Now what are the tools that the critical thinker can use? Please visit Critical Thinking Defined to see the list of tools as defined by the 2learn® Method.
When the student is selecting a tool to process her ideas, she should first assess what she wants to accomplish from her analysis and use the tool(s) that best fits her goal. For instance, if the student is looking for the logical explanation of subdivisions in time in music, then she should probably use her Logic and Reason tool as that mental process will likely provide her with the answer that best satisfies her needs.
The second step is how the student actually applies that tool to her ideas.
Third, the student should evaluate her answer and see if the tool that she utilized was the appropriate one. For instance, if the student is looking for an explanation of the fluidity in time in music, applies logic and reason to her analysis, and comes up with the metronome is the perfect indicator of time in music, she has most likely used the wrong tool as that tool explains rigidity not fluidity in time in music. Thus, she should go back and evaluate her ideas with a more appropriate tool – The Lack Thereof – because fluidity resides beyond logic and reason.
To build a strong house, you not only need strong materials but the right tools to reinforce its strength. Similarly, to build good answers, the student needs the right ideas and the right tools to process them. Thus, the tools of the critical thinker are the second step of solving a problem via the student’s critical thinking skills. Because critical thinking is the gateway to the infinite realm of knowledge, critical thinking is the foundational mentality that allows the student to select from a wide variety of tools, the appropriate one for the situation. Tool selection thus forces the student to even apply her elements of critical thinking (i.e. Thinking “Outside of the Box”) to even think of an appropriate tool.