What Is the Value of Critical Thinking?

Lecture1:

What Is the Value of Critical Thinking?

Introduction

Each of the seven topics for this critical thinking course is designed to give you many opportunities to make this a very successful learning venture. Success in this course will also help you in all the other courses you are taking, as well as your career and the rest of life’s journey.

The topics indicate the required reading assignments that address relevant critical thinking topics. The topics also outline additional concepts, as well as supplemental readings, videos, and exercises that discuss those concepts and further enhance your experience with this subject. The Supplemental Reading documents available for each week will give you information on the concepts and―being true to critical thinking―also present “thought-provoking” questions to encourage further individual exploration. You may not be able to read, watch, or do all the activities, but all will help you on your road to become a better critical thinker. Enjoy the growth to the maximum.

Topic Purpose

This first topic gives you an introduction to the fundamentals of the most unique human function: critical thinking. Here you will have opportunities to study and evaluate what others think about critical thinking. More importantly, you will have chances to determine and articulate what you think about critical thinking. The major concepts in this first topic of the course include definitions of the thinking process; thinking and the brain; critical thinking skills; the value of critical thinking in your work, academic, and personal endeavors; and initiation of your persuasive essay.

Topic Concept #1: What Is Thinking?

What do we mean when we say, “We are the thinking animal”?

Simply put, thinking is often defined as the mental process by which we deal with information―how we make sense of the world. It involves consciousness, imagination, and cognition. Thinking is an activity that underlies all human interaction. We think about what we know, what we do not know, and what we think we know. Then we think about what we thought about. While other animals may think, we seem to be the only animal that thinks about thinking.

How do you define thinking?

Topic Concept #2: The Magnificent Human Brain

Consider the human brain. What makes it so magnificent? What makes it so complex? How is it different than the brains of other animals? What is the “human spark”? How does the thinking process unfold in the brain? With close to a trillion brain cells―more than 100 billion of which are neurons―in the average human brain, the brain helps us realize chaos, as well as bring the chaos into order. It facilitates the evaluation of experiences and the transformation of those experiences into memories. The brain helps us identify problems and direct them into solutions. The brain either controls or monitors everything we think, feel, and do.

In chapter 4, the textbook gives impressive information on the splendor of the brain. There are several additional optional readings and resources provided in the topic course materials section. They are not required for the assignments, but each presents a variety of viewpoints that may or may not align with your personal beliefs. When reviewing these materials, it is recommended that you apply the principles of critical thinking to consider the merits of the perspectives presented.

Topic Concept #3: What Is Critical Thinking?

Scientists, philosophers, and other great thinkers have defined critical thinking from various perspectives: as a process, set of proficiencies, competencies, self-assessment, questioning expertise, and/or a disciplined mode of thinking. Some divide it into steps, traits, skills, etc.

The word “critical” has evolved from the Greek kritikos, which means “able to make judgments,” and from krinein, “to separate, decide.” In our present language, the word “critical” is used in application to judgment, criticism, crisis, danger, risk, etc. What does it mean when it is used in conjunction with thinking?

How would you define critical thinking? How can you tell when it is being practiced (or not being practiced)?

Topic Concept #4: What Is the Value of Critical Thinking?

What is the value of critical thinking in general? In your work life? In your academic journey?

It is well known that change is constant. Life is dynamic, and so it must be with thinking. What you thought you knew yesterday−or even a minute ago−will have changed by the time you finished reading this sentence. Adapting to this constant change not only requires an open mind but one that is constantly and creatively looking for new answers.

How do you think critical thinking skills can benefit you? Is it necessary or advantageous to always apply critical thinking skills to everything you say or do? Why or why not? When or when not?

If anything, the workplace is very dynamic. This is true of not only the people, but the processes, technologies, and structures. So are you! How can critical thinking skills help you to not only survive but thrive in the constantly changing workplace?

Academic credentialing−i.e., getting a degree−requires considerable reading, research, and writing. Great learning requires thoughtful, even critical reading, research, and writing. What role does thinking play in any or all of these areas? How can strong critical thinking skills help you in your academic pursuits? What other critical thinking points should be considered when learning via the online mode?

At Grand Canyon University, you are given the opportunity to “Find Your Purpose.” How can you use your critical thinking skills in this life-defining endeavor?

Topic Concept #5: Persuasive Essay

Please see your syllabus regarding the instructions for creating and completing the persuasive essay. Think about it, and enjoy the application of your new learning.