Volume 40, Issue 3, September 2017
Sharon Bailin, Mark Battersby
What Should I Believe?
Teaching Critical Thinking for Reasoned Judgment
“How do I figure out what to believe?” In the face of competing views, conflicting claims, distrust of expertise, and disdain for facts, this question is both understandable and pertinent. The perennial educational task of helping people to evaluate claims and compare arguments in order to engage in reasoned discourse and make reasoned judgments takes on particular urgency in the contemporary context. An obvious venue for such an endeavor is a course in critical thinking, but the way critical thinking is usually taught, with its focus on individual arguments, does not get us to that goal. The approach which we have developed focuses, instead, on inquiry, which has as its goal to provide students with the tools necessary for engaging in reasoned discourse and making reasoned judgments in real contexts. We describe this approach, argue for its advantages, and describe what a course would look like following an inquiry approach.