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Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 23, Issue 3, Spring 2004

The Social Dimension of Critical Thinking

Mary Vasudeva, Stuart Keeley
Pages 17-22
DOI: 10.5840/inquiryctnews20042334

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.

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