Volume 23, Issue 3, Spring 2004
The Social Dimension of Critical Thinking
Mary Vasudeva, Stuart Keeley
Critical Thinking as a Constructive Rather Than Destructive Force in Interpersonal Relationships
Transferring critical thinking skills and dispositions from the classroom to our relationships is fraught with peril. The constructive infusion of criticality into interpersonal relationships, however, can greatly
enrich such relationships. An important question is how best to accomplish this enrichment process. In response to that question, we suggest the following strategies to facilitate the process of criticality in a relationship: (1) recognize potential argument frames and explore and negotiate these within the context of our relationships; (2) recognize one’s own and the other’s complex context, especially deep-seated
values, attitudes, and commitments; (3) frame caring as including both support and criticality and avoid treating others as “spun glass,” too fragile to partake of critical thinking exchanges; (4) apply active listening skills during critical thinking discussions. These strategies can help transform potentially adversarial interactions into positive growth experiences for all concerned.