Saturday, April 21, 2012

Book Review: Critical Thinking Skills - Developing Effective Analysis And Argument


Song:  In The Year 2525

Artists:  Zager and Evans


Although I love this song - (ever since I had first heard it in 1969)...
I included it as light sardonic humor.

It is filled with false premises...and faulty logic  :)
( just dig that rhythm and beat though :)


And so...
it brings me to this great book by Author: Stella Cottrell




Just another great book my wife had gotten for Alex to digest...
piece by piece... during his nightly bedtime routine.

My wife has ALWAYS read to Alex at bedtime.

She will read to him...
he will read to her...
she will ask conceptual questions.

His last moments of the day...
before sleep overtakes him...
are ones of learning.

She is presently reading this book to him at bedtime.


Before I go into the actual review of this book...

there are three very important times of the day in which a mother
may make a tremendous amount of difference in her child's life...
(even a full time working mother)

Intellectually...
Physically....
Emotionally.


1)  Intellectual:  After school - reviewing her child's homework
(checking for accuracy...insuring concepts are understood).

2)  Physical / Emotional:  Meal time - nutritious food and a relaxed atmosphere
of trust where affairs of the heart may be discussed. 
 This is where the mother does most of the listening...
with some directed questioning to guide the conversation.


3)  Intellectual / Emotional:  Bedtime reading - Even light reading may be turned into an
intellectual exercise by asking him what he thinks may happen later in the book...
and having him explain why.  Ask what would happen had a different scenario
presented itself.  Ask what he would have done under similar circumstances.
This is also a perfect time to explain important concepts through directed texts.

All of these may be done after normal work hours.

I must, once again, tell of the critical importance of a bedtime ritual...
to both, the parent, and the child.

Besides the importance of a structured routine of intellectual development...
it goes far deeper.  

Especially when started from birth...
the bonding between parent and child...
one of shared proximity...
shared time...
shared thoughts...
shared hearts...
becomes greatly heightened and ever growing.

There is the steadily reinforced inherent knowledge 
of trust, warmth, respect and love
as the parent bestows her wisdom and love
to the most pure and innocent being on the planet...
her child.

 I, as a man, looking from the outside, to the inside...
 suspect the great endurance a mother develops in the relentless
caring of her child, comes from the great energy she derives from
the depth of love for her child.

It becomes an inner drive fed by
an energy reserve that increases in capacity...
and constantly replenishes, the more she bonds with her child.

A mother raising her child is one of the greatest feats of endurance
a human experiences.

While a marathon lasts but a few hours...
a mother's marathon lasts for years.

A bedtime ritual greatly enhances the bonding experience.

OK...
now on to the book review.


As taken from the introduction (mostly verbatim)...



Aims of the book


  Understanding the concepts used in critical thinking...

 Developing clearer thinking...

 Interpreting and producing arguments more effectively...

  Being more observant of what is seen and heard.

-----

Activities in the book


The book supplies activities to apply the concepts it introduces...
and to practice the new skills.

The answer pages give, not only the correct answers...
but the underlying reasons for the answers...
allowing further development of the fundamental concepts.

-----

Contents of the Chapters


Chapter 1:   Introduces critical thinking, looking at the range of underlying skills 
and underlying attitudes associated with critical thinking... 
and of the benefits of thinking critically.

Chapter 2:    Looks at aspects of thinking skills such as focusing your attention...
identifying similarities and differences, sequencing, categorizing, and close reading.

Chapter 3:    Introduces argument as a central aspect of critical reading 
by identifying the components of correct argumentation and by providing
practice in the identification of these components.

Chapter 4:   Expands on chapter 3 through the distinguishing of
subjective disagreements and objective arguments...
and of how to identify a central critical argument in a sea of
summaries, explanations, and descriptions.

Chapter 5:   Focuses on the quality of reasoning.  It gives the understanding
of the structure of an argument.

Chapter 6 and 7:   Develops skills in analyzing the details of an argument. 
They cover the aspects of implied and implicit arguments, as well as 
the identification of false premises, whether implied or expressed...
and of the common types of flawed logic.

Chapter 8:  Focuses on finding and evaluating sources of evidence to support
an argument.  It particularly focuses on several methods used to ensure the
quality of the relied upon evidence, such as, statistical analysis...
levels of probability, and of the triangulation of evidence (cross checking).

Chapter 9:   Looks at specific ways of applying critical reasoning to 
reading and note taking.

Chapters 10 and 11:  Focuses on the application of critical reasoning to writing.

Chapter 12:   This chapter gives various models used to develop critical reflection 
(Inferential Learning).


Now...
I must apologize.

I usually read each chapter and provide a synopsis for my book reviews.

However, the introduction of this book was so well written and complete...
I simply could not have done better.

This book is perfect for advanced elementary school students...
and certainly for junior high school students.

This book excels in the teaching of how to think...
not just in what to think.

------

When I get frustrated...
I will sometimes degrade an argument into an emotive one...
one in which I will spit out a fallacy of logic.

Although I will almost always realize and correct it before going forth...
my son has, at times, corrected me (with great delight :)
by quoting the particular fallacy of logic I had committed  :)


As we are preparing Alex for formal argumentation...

I look forward to the day in which my son will consistently...
 and soundly, defeat me in intellectual combat (applied critical reasoning)
(neither my wife, nor I, can keep up with Alex in math as it is).

As my son's instructor in life...
it is my sacred duty to prepare him for the world.

As his life teacher...
the day will inevitably come... 
in which he surpasses me.

On that great day...
in losing intellectually to my son...
I will have ultimately won.



2 comments:

  1. Ha, I find it a bit amusing that Alex takes pleasure in correcting you. I foresee great intellectual battles between the two of you in the not-too-distant future.

    ReplyDelete
  2. And...I welcome his correction...so long as he can explain his position. His face starts beaming when I ask him, "How so?". I can see great pride in him when he can justify his position. I then say, "Very good!"...and I give him a big hug. During such moments, we both feel elated to see such a demonstration of his growth.

    ReplyDelete

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