Thinking is an important aspect of life as it helps people to solve problems reasonably and make rational decisions. However, thinking does not just occur. It is a process that requires commitment. For one to become a critical thinker, they go through six stages as explained by Paul and Elder in their article. It is worth noting that moving from one stage to the other is conscious and is dependent on their interest and commitment to learn how to think (Elder and Paul, 2015). The stages of thinking according to the stage theory by Paul and Elder are; The unreflective thinker, the unchallenged thinker, the beginning thinker, the practicing thinker, the advanced thinker and the accomplished thinker in that order.
The unreflective thinker is someone who despite the fact that they think, they may not be aware that they think. They do not recognize the impact of thinking in their lives. As such, they cannot assess their thinking and hence cant improve it. These thinkers do not know that for them to become quality thinkers, they need to learn and practice how to think. The second stage referred to as the challenged thinker describes individuals who are just beginning to realize the impact of thinking in their lives. Such thinkers are starting to understand that their inability to think critically is actually causing problems in their lives. However, they do not know how to go about thinking but they are already developing interest to learn how to think. The third stage is the beginning thinker (Elder and Paul, 2015). These are people who are starting to take up the challenge to improve their thinking. They know that they have a problem in thinking and they are already taking charge so that they can better their thinking. However, thinkers at this stage are yet to develop a systematic plan that can help them improve their thinking. As a result, their efforts do not bear any tangible outcomes.
The fourth stage is the practicing thinker. At this stage, a thinker has already started having a sense of the steps and actions they need to take in order to improve their thinking (Elder and Paul, 2013). They are able to recognize the problem in their thinking and at the same time they are beginning to understand the importance of addressing this problem in a systematic way. As such, thinkers at this stage can analyze their thinking but their insight to higher level thinking is still limited. The fifth stage is the advanced thinker. This is a stage where thinkers have already taken charge of their thinking. They have already developed good thinking habits and are already becoming good thinkers. They are able to control their thinking so that they are not egocentric. Finally, there is the accomplished thinker. These are thinkers who have already taken charge of their thinking. They are in full control of their thinking and hence are able to differentiate between fair minded thinking and egocentric thinking (Elder and Paul, 2013). They are however continually looking for ways to improve their thinking through monitoring, revisiting and re-strategizing. These thinkers are capable of actively analyzing their own thinking.
Currently, I am at the practicing thinker level. I have already learnt that there is a problem in my thinking and that it is causing problems in my life. I have also learnt that in order to address my life problems, I will need to improve my thinking. In other words, I am aware of the need to think critically and have already started to devise ways that can help me improve my thinking.
The long term goal of developing thinking skill is that it will help one understand issues in a more reasonable and rational way and hence they can make good and informed decisions. Developing this goal would help enhance my personal and professional life in that I will be able to see things in multiple dimensions and hence have a better understanding that will then help me in my decisions and actions.
Elder and Paul R. (2015). Critical Thinking Development: A Stage Theory. The Critical Thinking Community. <https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/critical-thinking-development-a-stage-theory/483> Accessed September 9, 2017
Elder, Linda, and Paul. R (2013) 30 Days to Better Thinking and Better Living Through Critical Thinking: A Guide for Improving Every Aspect of Your Life. Upper Saddle River, N.J: FT Press.
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