Get Thinking!

How do I think?

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The following checklist covers some of the important elements of a thinking disposition.

How do you rate yourself?

Think about this:

We would not be surprised if you had a mixture of ratings in your responses. These characteristics may not all be ones you have needed or wanted to develop for everyday life. However, reflecting and working on the attitudes and behaviours of a thinking disposition may be something you will find helpful to your studies.

All students in higher education are encouraged to develop courage and independence in thinking. Starting to study is much like learning in other areas of life. Sometimes, we feel like an outsider who knows nothing compared with the experts in the field. At this stage, knowledge may be seen as something vast and complicated that comes from books and experts, and learning as being about having some of this knowledge transferred to us. We may feel that with all these experts and knowledge around there must be an answer to everything - it is just a matter of finding it. At this stage, we may not have views on things, or feel our views are not legitimate or of any value. Sometimes, we start out with a more confident approach, the views we already have are the right ones and things are straightforwardly right or wrong.

As we move on and become more involved in our subject, we realise that not everything is known, even by experts. We realise that what counts as valid knowledge depends on the context (because knowledge may change with time or culture). We also begin to realise that there are different views, even if we treat them as equally valid because we do not have the confidence or skills to judge them. Eventually, we may reach a point at which we have engaged sufficiently with our subject and developed the skills and confidence to have our own views based on careful consideration (reasoned judgement, evidence, values). We realise that intellectual development never stops, and that we are part of the process - thus, knowledge is created by us.

Like any change, the journey of intellectual growth can be challenging, risky and painful but it is also extremely rewarding. Reflecting on critical incidents and turning points in our thinking can be a valuable tool for development.

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