The buzz words today in education reform is “Critical Thinking”. We hear that everyone needs to be a better critical thinker. I really think these words are overused and overrated. In fact, one only has read the many blogs and social networking posts to see that we in no short supply of critical thinkers on just about every conceivable topic. (I am guilty as charged.)
The Psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, had a lot to say about critical thinking and the other “higher” cognitive skills, but he noted that they were on the top of his hierarchy of skills. You needed to obtain a lot of the lower level knowledge and skills before you could manipulate them at the highest levels of his hierarchy. It wasn’t done easily as he said. In fact, it is generally agreed that it takes 10 years to be an expert in any subject area. To be the best critical thinkers, we need to learn one area very deeply and completely. It really means going back to the basics and studying one area in depth. After this deep knowledge is acquired, you can transfer it to new areas, and this is where innovation really occurs.
When I hear financial advice from Warren Buffet, I listen carefully, because I know he is an expert in his field. He can think and apply his knowledge critically. It’s not often the case with other financial advisers who claim to know what they are doing. The recent financial meltdown in this country shows that the deep knowledge required by investors was not there. (Warren Buffet did fine during the meltdown.)
When I wrote my book, I read 80 plus books on the area of Adult Education. It is a subject area that I truly enjoy, and I devour books on the subject. To be the best critical thinkers, find an area that you feel passionate about and study that area in depth. Your critical thinking may truly amount to something new and innovative — and much more than a blog post.