Being skilled in critical thinking is assessing your thinking in a systematic manner, examining every aspect of it, evaluating its quality, and then improving it. We must develop logical conclusions based on well-informed assumptions and thoroughly comprehend our own point of view and examine all pertinent points of view. Reasoning is impossible without the use of facts, evidence, or experience. Although experience is the best teacher, biased experiences reinforce prejudice. In most cases, we can comprehend information by absorbing static data, generating activated ignorance, or acquiring active knowledge. These components are necessary, and the distinctions between them help people develop critical thinking skills.
Information that can be articulated but not used is referred to as inert knowledge. Students’ comprehension does not progress to the point where information can be applied to address difficulties in real-life settings. The problem of inert knowledge is explained by the fact that humans frequently code understanding for a given context, resulting in future reminders only occurring for highly similar situations (Elder & Paul, 2012). When the shortfall is based on the structure of the knowledge itself, corresponding knowledge is available but not utilized owing to disturbed access mechanisms (Elder & Paul, 2013a). As a result, instructional models have been devised to address the problem of inert knowledge while also considering key points stated by another explanation.
Knowledge acquired at educational institutions such as schools, colleges, or vocational courses is frequently not applied outside of the right setting. The failure to apply information can alternatively be attributed to metacognitive control, which is attributed to a part of the cognitive system functioning on the knowledge base rather than a lack of knowledge employed (Elder & Paul, 2013b). Lack of conceptual knowledge, lack of compilation of knowledge, separate knowledge systems for verbalization and requirements for action, and knowledge sharing can also serve as a reason for insufficient application and transfer of knowledge.
Something people take for granted or assume is referred to as assumption. We usually accept what we have been taught and do not challenge it. This is a core belief of ours, and people often take their beliefs for granted. Therefore, beliefs, and hence assumptions, might be unreasonable or justified based on whether they have solid grounds for it. Inferences might be exact or sloppy, rational or illogical, justified or unjustified (Elder & Paul, 2012). The inference is a logical process in which a person arrives at the conclusion that something is real based on the fact that something else is true or appears to be true.
People naturally make assumptions based on their views and draw conclusions based on those assumptions. People come to conclusions on their own to offer a foundation for understanding and action. Recognizing that the conclusions made from the experiences impact the knowledge. This permits us to separate the experiences into categories: the basic facts of our experiences against our interpretations or judgments about them (Elder & Paul, 2013a). Finally, the conclusions we reach are strongly influenced by the point of view and preconceptions about individuals and events. Different people often reach various conclusions because they approach issues from different perspectives since they have diverse perspectives on data.
People begin to manage their thinking when they become aware of the conclusions they are forming and the assumptions that underpin those conclusions. Because all human thinking is intrinsically founded on inferences, the control of thought is reliant on the control of the inferences it includes, and hence the assumptions that underpin it (Elder & Paul, 2013a). People make many assumptions without realizing it since they don’t think about it. Many assumptions are true and correct, while some are incorrect. For example, due to a lack of accurate information, I drew an incorrect assumption about one of my acquaintances. This irrational conclusion was the source of my early hate for the individual, even if it turned out to be fundamentally incorrect in the end.
Some individuals feel they comprehend things, events, people, and circumstances that they don’t. This is known as active ignorance, when people accept false knowledge and are engaged in actively employing it. They behave on the basis of their erroneous beliefs, illusions, and delusions. Activated ignorance can be the catalyst for mass activities involving millions of people, or it might be a single illusion acted on by a single person in a small set of circumstances (Elder & Paul, 2013a). It is difficult to tell what active ignorance is and what is not since almost everyone can have beliefs that can be active ignorance.
Whether or not specific information can be proven to be erroneous or misleading, the idea of active ignorance is crucial. The majority of people who acted harmfully as a result of their activated ignorance were probably ignorant that they were harming others (Elder & Paul, 2012). Ignorance construed as truth is a serious concern with far-reaching implications (Elder & Paul, 2013b). As a consequence, it’s critical to evaluate beliefs, especially when acting on them, that have the potential to cause considerable injury, distress, or suffering to others.
When we talk about activated knowledge, it usually implies the acceptance and active application of information that is right. This process indirectly leads us to more and more knowledge through a deep comprehension and allows us to infer more and more knowledge indirectly (Elder & Paul, 2013a). Every valid human discipline has the possibility for activated knowledge. We begin with basic knowledge of a certain area’s most fundamental principles and aims. We may feel the power of intellect, knowledge, and experience functioning in tandem based on basic concepts and fundamental principles (Elder & Paul, 2012). One of the most important strategies here is to develop a method of gathering active knowledge, so the logic of other things will be uncovered through this process.
Thus, it can be seen how crucial it the understanding different aspects of seemingly basic concepts of thinking. The best example in terms of visibility of consequences is the subject of history or historical learning. When a student simply memorizes the dates and events, not really thinking about underlying processes, it can lead to activated ignorance. Part of it can become his pool of inert information; the other – which a student can misinterpret or not understand – can lead him to false inference and ground his beliefs on a fundamentally wrong assumption. On the contrary, understanding historical thinking helps to rely on historical information while also grasping past historical knowledge. Accountability for the past may assist in better comprehending the present and establishing logical future plans by starting with a grasp of the core program of historical thought, such as constructing (Elder & Paul, 2013a). Once a student has grasped this fundamental understanding of historical reasoning, he may begin to think historically in daily situations. He or she starts to understand the link between thinking about an item and thinking about everyday life problems, which is an example of activated knowledge.
Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2012). Critical thinking: Competency standards essential to the cultivation of intellectual skills, Part 4. Journal of Developmental Education, 35(3), 30-31.
Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2013a). Critical thinking: Intellectual standards essential to reasoning well within every domain of thought. Journal of Developmental Education, 36(3), 34–35.
Elder, L. & Paul, R. (2013b). Critical thinking: Intellectual standards essential to reasoning well within every domain of thought, Part two. Journal of Developmental Education, 37(1), 32-33, 36.