Perhaps by now, we have enough variations of Descartes famous declaration? Apparently not: I think critically, therefore I am:
By studying the theory of critical thinking and tenaciously applying it to classroom practice, I began to see more clearly how to approach content as a mode of thought, rather than as fragmented bits of information. I began to see the intimate connection between thinking and learning, to see how to intervene in thinking deliberately and constructively to deepen one’s understanding, and to interface the content of my subject with the values and motivations of students.
The article goes on to provide a four-stage process to thinking critically. When learners have greater control, they also require greater command of critical thinking skills. Why? Well, if I’m taking a course under the direction of an instructor, I will hopefully be able to learn from the instructor modeling these skills. A course is a sanitized version of messy and chaotic information that comprises a field. Learners (hopefully) encounter only the most established and trusted information during a course. Once a learner steps outside of the course, she’ll inevitably encounter false and biased information. And, I think, it’s somewhat natural to begin connecting with learners who share our own beliefs and views. As a result, self-directed learners may cluster around shared beliefs and ideals. But it is in the friction of differing views that serendipity exists. Admittedly, this might not happen in a classroom either, but a good instructor will at least highlight points of tension in a subject area. When I learn on my own, diversity needs to become an explicit pursuit.