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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 terri.frazier@vicksburgpost.com.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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