We must be active learners, not passive recipients
Hubby and I don’t always see eye to eye on politics, which needless to say has, on occasion, caused a few heated discussions.
Last week, one of those fiery conversations ensued, and during our “debate” he told me I needed to use my critical thinking skills.
Well, as you might have guessed, I took those as fighting words, which only fanned the flame.
I, of course, felt I was speaking reasonably on the topic.
He just didn’t agree with my viewpoint.
This week, as I pondered our conversation, I decided to turn to the internet and peruse websites that defined critical thinking.
One source I found described critical thinking as the ability to think clearly and rationally consider what to do or what to believe, which includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.
Critical thinking, the website said, is not a matter of just accumulating information. A critical thinker must also be able to deduce consequences from what they know, know how to make use of information to solve problems and seek relevant sources of information to inform himself.
Another website put it this way — critical thinking is the analysis of an issue or situation and the facts, data or evidence related to it. It went on to say, that ideally, critical thinking should be without influence from personal feelings, opinions or biases and focus solely on factual information.
These criteria for critical thinking can be challenging in today’s culture, especially with the television and radio news channels. No matter your political leaning, these media outlets are all too happy to supply you with “facts” they hope will influence you.
Their facts, like the website stated, are often influenced by the personal opinions of the commentators.
In addition to the airwaves, there is also social media, where anyone can say just about anything, true or false.
And this information flows freely, making it difficult to sift through the rubbish. But we have to sort through it. We can’t be lazy.
We must be active learners, not passive recipients.
Critical thinkers question ideas and assumptions. They don’t just accept something at face value.
I was reminded of this fact in a Sunday school class many years ago and have even referenced the incident in an earlier column I wrote.
While in class, I had made a comment on the subject we were discussing and said I had gleaned my information from something I had read.
As in my previous column, I wrote that it had been Roy Wells, a church member I had always respected, who responded to my comment with a simple question.
“Do you believe everything you read?”
His words continue to resonate with me.
I can’t assume everything I read, see or hear is the absolute truth.
It is imperative that I — we — use independent thinking capabilities while gathering information from sources.
Do the due-diligence necessary. Don’t let others make up your mind.
Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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