Origin of CT and its definition

Recent trends in the educational sphere stress the significance of critical thinking skills necessary for academic success and for life. Learners are encouraged to question the validity of views in texts or judge the views of other people. In addition they are to filter knowledge of all kinds through their reasoning and determine logical flaws instead of accepting them as they are. The purpose of this post is to give a general understanding to term ‘critical thinking” and present a glimpse of historical origin about this convoluted phenomenon.

Nowadays there are numerous definitions of critical thinking in the literature.  The majority of definitions are alike and they stress the importance of questioning, for instance, Paul  defined critical thinking as gaining knowledge of requiring and responding questions of analysis, synthesis and evaluation and ‘the ability to reach sound conclusions based on observations and information’( Paul, 1988, p. 49 ). Also senior consultants of  Hannel educational consulting center in Arizona  emphasized that  critical thinking skills would be described as a dialogue between a teacher and a student in the form of Socratic questioning ( Hannel & Hannel, 1998, p. 47 ). Similarly, American psychologist Kurfiss  defined critical thinking as an investigation whose aim is to explore a situation, phenomenon, while all assumptions are open to questions moreover  all available facts can be persuasively justified (as cited in Angelo ,1995,p.6). Therefore, appropriate set of inquiring questions may foster good critical thinking   environment in the class.

History of critical thinking began from ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (469-399 BC). He discovered significance of searching evidence, closely through questioning. He practiced investigating human beings’ mind and thoughts. Researchers of the 20th century at different domains could realize that basic questions of Socrates would become baseline in critical thinking.  In 1906, William Graham Sumner, an American academic in sociology published his book “Folkways” where he mentioned symbiotic relationship between critical thinking and education. Later in 1933 an American philosopher John Dewey attempted to describe critical thinking from philosophical perspective whereby education was intended as a tool for providing conditions to foster thinking habits ( Dewey, 193). Hence, critical thinking is well – established  vital  skill which can occur   in various fields of science.



Angelo, A.T. (1995, February). Classroom  Assessment for Critical Thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22 (1), 6-7. Retrieved from JSTOR.

Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process, Lexington, MA: Heath. Retrieved from Google books.

Hannel, G. I. Hannel, L. ( 1998,  September ). Seven steps to teach crtical thinking.  The Education Digest, 64 (1), 47-51. Retrieved from JSTOR.

Paul R., (1988) Critical thinking in the classroom, Teaching, 18 (8), 49-51. Retrieved from Google Scholar.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s