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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

How to Think Critically

Making Wise Choices
"Was wondering how you might react to a student who would say to you, "The test questions in that class are taken right from the book. You're wasting your time by going to class." Often advice from your peers might be popular advice but not proper advice. It's very important that you be a thinking, self-directed person--an individual. As an individual, you must develop your own response to other people or their ideas. Don't carelessly accept the suggestions of others. Learn to be a critical thinker. That doesn't mean that you can never think like your friends. As long as you make wise choices, it doesn't matter how popular they are. Too often students make judgments based on first impressions, gut reactions, or the influence of their friends. Remember your actions have consequences. You could fail a class, have financial difficulty or even health problems associated with stress. Thinking students will practice restraint and control their feelings rather than being controlled by them. So my advice to you is, "think before you act"."
- By Jo Ann Holtz

Critically Thinking While Writing a Paper
"You have a paper due in which you are to analyze an issue and explain your view. This requires critical thinking skills. Here are four steps from Becoming a Master Student that can help:

1. Decide what you think and why you think it. Writing out your initial ideas will clarify your thoughts.
2. Seek other views and more evidence. Make sure you examine all sides especially those that are contrary to your ideas. Talk to people who have expertise in the topic.
3. Evaluate the various views. Construct a chart with points that are in agreement and disagreement. Then compare this with your initial view.
4. Construct the most reasonable view. Your challenge is to develop a response you consider the most reasonable. Often times this will be a combination of the information you have researched and your initial ideas."

- By Naomi Johnson

Religion and Wisdom
"In my day, students used to complain about everything. But, I never heard a student complain that we devote too much time at the University to the study of Christianity and Judaism; even though those beliefs are the foundations of our Western culture.

Education at the University however, cannot ignore all religion. At the very least, we have to learn about pagan religion; i.e. the myths and figures of religion not connected to Abraham and Jesus. We have to learn about pagan religion in order to understand our own literature. Even today's writers use pagan religious images and symbols.

The pagan gods will always be with us. They take on new forms and new names, but they don't go away. Something about us will not let them go. We seem to need to exalt ourselves along with our stupidities. That's what the pagan gods do.

Why are we more interested in pagan gods than in God: more interested in paganism than in Christianity and Judaism? Because we see ourselves in the pagan gods. They are like us. That's not true of God.

The pagan gods like us are weak and bull-headed. Like us they are slaves of desire. They are destructive and vengeful, capricious and silly. And sometimes they are capable of greatness.

We need some form of religious education because we have some sense that we are more than dirt. Religion suggests that all will not be lost; that something of us will remain. It suggests that there is wisdom that needs to be learned in order to live life, instead of dying young.

The big question of course is: what level of wisdom? Our culture seems more interested in Hollywood gossip than in the more substantial wisdom enshrined in either pagan or Judeo-Christian religion. We seem more interested in entertainment than in real wisdom.

It seems a shame that even after making all the effort and bearing all the expense of a university education, some students come out not a bit more wise than when they started.

While you're being educated, don't forget about religion and wisdom."
- By Jim Drane
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