The Three Modes of Critical Thinking

The three modes of critical thinking are: (1) understanding, comprehending, and explaining a subject matter topic or issue; (2) argumentation; and (3) problem solving.

 

This discussion emphasizes Mode 1 of critical thinking because it is essential to understanding, comprehending, and explaining new and revisited subject matter; and because effective argumentation and problem solving first requires understanding and comprehension of the topic or issue at hand.

 

MODE 1 – INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES FOR REASONING CRITICALLY WHEN ENGAGING NEW AND REVISITED SUBJECT MATTER

To explain a topic (or issue) critically and explicitly, two reasoning processes can be used. They are called Mind Grammar 1 and Mind Grammar 2. MG1 and MG2 allow the facts and ideas present in the three universal elements that comprise subject matter to be identified, connected, and integrated critically. The three universal elements present in all subject matter topics are: (1) intent or objective, (2) processes to achieve the objective, and (3) the positive and negative consequences that follow. MG1 and MG2 provide the basis for (a) critical understanding and critical comprehension of new and revisited subject matter in one’s self (critical learning) and, (b) explicit Istrategies for explaining subject matter to all students through the design of student-centered classroom assignments (i.e., Critical Instruction). Equally important, MG1 and MG2 provide thinking Istrategies for critical reading and writing (the basis of critical learning and critical literacy).

Mind Grammar 1 and 2 for Critical Learning

MG1 uses the reasoning pattern “objective-process” for subject matter understanding and critical reading and writing. MG2 uses the deeper reasoning pattern “objective-process-consequences” for subject matter comprehension and for critical reading and writing.

Mind Grammar 1 and 2 for Critical Instruction

The MG1 and MG2 reasoning patterns are used to explain new and revisited subject matter while concurrently developing critical thinking, reading, and writing abilities in all students. Understand that a critical reasoning process for engaging new and revisited subject matter that cannot also be applied when reading and writing, is not and cannot be a true critical reasoning process.

MODE 2 – REASONING FOR ARGUMENTATION

These include reasoning processes for identifying, discussing, investigating, and debating conceptions, positions, and viewpoints on issues, themes, propositions, and hypotheses

MODE 3 – REASONING FOR PROBLEM-SOLVING

​These include reasoning processes for situations that require resolution.

 

The Mind’s Palette

Critical thinking is one of four categories of conscious thinking.  The other three are recall. logical. and creative. For more information (including conceptual, declarative, and procedural knowledge), on the four categories of thinking, see:

Chapter 1: The Language of Instruction; Chapter 2: The Nature of Subject Matter and Mind Grammar, and Chapter 3: Thinking – The First Language Art; all in Critical Instruction – How to Explain Subject Matter While Teaching All Learners to Think, Read, and Write Critically (Maiorana, 2016).