FAQ about Critical Thinking (CT).

Q. What is 'Critical' Thinking?

A. Most people think. However, a lot of the time, people tend to think informally with distortions, deletions and generalisations (does this sound familiar to NLP Practitioners?) This informal reasoning can lead to incorrect judgements, misunderstandings and secondary..ahem; 'emotional' responses! Politicians absolutely exploit these to communicate to the electorate.

Q. Doesn't 'Critical' sound rather negative?

A. There's the nub. Words may have a 'common' meaning which can vary in relation to the dictionary or context dependant meaning. For example:

"Let me give you some feedback"

For a lot of people, the meaning of the word 'feedback' can be negative, whereas feedback can also have positive as well as negative aspects AND ideally have objectivity.

So Critical Thinking is an ability to think in a certain way; consistently and clearly using structured language to reason. A set of skills which can be learnt to increase your persuasion and influencing skills, sometimes dramatically, in order to understand more fully how other people construct their map or guide to the world at large and to add more structure to your map. The word critical itself can, again, be interpreted generally in several ways. For Critical Thinking purposes it has a meaning of precision rather than having a negative connotation.

Q. What about reasoning that is not 'critical?'

A. This may appear as a train of thoughts/speech which may have missing parts, be incorrect or have connections that don't appear to connect! All of which you might take for granted as being true or obvious as to the meaning of the words. The problem may be that the speaker's meaning in actuality may not be the same as yours. Further down the line the mis-communication may eventually emerge (and usually at the wrong time).

To get you started let's take an example: A partner or someone at work or a politician gives a rationale for their actions to justify a project.

How do you know whether their reasoning is sound?
What are the basic assumptions they make?
How do they where it will lead?
Why are they interested in the project?

Q How do I know when I'm not reasoning critically?

A. Through any of the possibilities you may experience below:

- It all seems reasonable; you 'just' know.
- It doesn't add up; but somehow, you cannot articulate how your/their speech/report is flawed.
- You get lost mentally halfway through your/their speech/report:
- You wonder whether; Is it them or you? and how do you know?
- Where you know errors are being made, yet have problems knowing what say say in return, you may even experience a thoughts similar to: "Oh, what's the use..." combined with a feeling of resignation and emotion.
- When you resort to: "I know what I mean!"

Q. Surely there's no incorrectness, correctness, right or wrong 'answers'?

A. All Cats are Green. No - really: All cats ARE green.


Q. Fair enough; How did CT start?

A. CT has been traditionally taught or made available in postgraduate studies and within certain undergraduate degrees - Philosophy, Law and some science subjects - to support what's known as higher level or order thinking.(Bloom et. al.)

Q. But is CT relevant today?

A. Some educationalists think so. Advantages in the use of CT by students have been recognised in the UK as being appropriate for improving communications skills at a much earlier stage of learning. A full A Level in CT has been recently introduced for schools in the UK. The International Baccalaureate (IB) has 'Learning to learn' at the core of its programme with elements of CT included. In Clackmannanshire, Scotland, primary schools are trialling an experimental philosophy programme which appears to show in current studies, an average increase in participant's IQ of 5% and a corresponding increase in Emotional Intelligence.

Q. How does this connect with NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)?

A. NLP emerged from the work of Bandler & Grinder at UCLA in an academic setting where CT was taken for granted. However, very many people have simply not heard about CT. So for them, CT may well be a step towards comprehending and having a fuller appreciation of the beauty and genius of the Meta and Milton models of language - Particularly when applying NLP. All in addition to the (other) underlying structure of CT. Moreover, there is a set of distinctions within language which has, up until now, not been fully recognised within NLP which will also increasingly expand your variety of the other NLP language patterns, such as Sleight of Mouth, Grovian patterns etc.

Q. Can you give me a specific example of CT?

A. Imagine someone talks/writes to you with the following:

Ships are dangerous, If you go on one: be careful!

- It might be a different message depending on who is speaking:

Your Aunt Elsie (for her conscience) or
A training company selling you Health and Safety courses (for 800/day...+VAT)

The vested interests of each speaker are given in brackets.

Supplemental: Can you see any other deletions in that passage?

Q. Do I need any knowledge of NLP for the Convince! seminar on CT & NLP?

A. Knowledge of the NLP Practitioner language patterns is recommended but not compulsory.

Q. Why the title 'When Worlds Collide' for this programme?

A. The suitability was chosen for many reasons - CT may be considered as both counterpoint and complement to NLP in terms of structure and content. When used together, the results can be very powerful indeed.

You can now download the Convince!programme brochure and also book here online.


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