Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Richard Paul, two specialists in the area of critical thinking, have created a handbook that can, and quite possibly should be used by all who are focused on higher learning. Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking addresses the highly necessary foundations of thinking concerning higher learning and educated communication. “Critical thinkers are clear as to the purpose at hand and the question at issue. They question information, conclusions, and points of view.” The discuss the need for the communicator to first understand their own questions in regard to their research, however, they must be able to do this with an honest and open-eyed view of other perspectives as well. Miniature Guide is written in a manner that is clear and very easy to understand for any student beginning higher education, and yet very thought provoking to the very learned of scholars.
The need for understanding critical thinking is of course not the only means of understanding scholarship; however, the importance represented here is described so that the reader may gain accurate perspective on any information obtained, as well as any information passed on. In his review on one of the other works of Elder and Paul, Howard A. Daughty wrote, “The Foundation for Critical Thinking, of course, does not dominate the educational marketplace. Many alternative, though generally similar, methods are available. The Foundation’s products, however, can stand as exemplars of the kind of approach that sustains the project of critical thinking that is now an integral part of the curricula of schools from the elementary to the post-doctoral levels.” As a student in a doctoral program, I found myself seeking potential for personal growth through the few pages in this guide. At some points I wanted to thank the authors for the insightful advice and beneficial advantages I found to my grow my own dissertation strategies. At other points, I was tempted to write a disgruntled letter for their insight into some of my own potential shortfalls.
In particular, I did come to find three particularly areas that I would like to focus on here; personal struggle in my own scholarship and teaching, personal conflicts with biblical teaching and critical thinking, and personal tools that will help in my own dissertation.
First, concerning a personal struggle that I must always keep attentive to in my own ministry, I know that I always seem to have an agenda when I research anything. Whether it be for personal growth, to teach a bible class, or to prepare for a sermon, I always have a prior motivation for the areas that I study. One of the questions asked in the text was, “Are you distorting ideas to fit your agenda?” As ministers, we always desire to fit scripture into every topic, however, there is the challenge to maintain the integrity of the text while still understanding the audience we are preaching to. Critical thinking requires us to maintain not just the integrity of the message, but also the integrity of the audience we are addressing. I believe all ministers have to hold themselves accountable to an honest answer of this question.
Second, I had a personal conflict with the concept of biblical teaching versus critical thinking. Elder and Paul asked another question; “Do we need to consider another point of view?” There are a number areas of study that of course require this question to be asked, especially in regards of grasping a well-rounded perspective on a topic; however, is this a feasible situation when teaching the Word of God? My concern here is that there is often too much consideration to others views, perspectives, and opinions when preaching, and do not believe that this is proper with biblical instruction. When viewing many of the consideration clauses in the text, the reality of ministry is that we will always be biased; we have desire to teach the gospel out of the belief that we have in the Gospel. Many of the ideas of fairness and openness seem at conflict with the need to “speak things which are proper for sound doctrine.” Opinion, preference, and desire should have no impact on the preaching of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lastly, though there may have been some obstacles in this message, I also found very valuable tools for working on my own personal dissertation; primarily in the organization and preparation. Elder and Paul provided a “Template for Problem-Solving,” which I found kept me thinking about the order of the paper I intend to write. What an incredible tool this will prove to be in helping to plan the questions I will ask as well as the motives for the direction my dissertation will take. I have thought long and hard on not just the content of my paper, but also the intention behind it. When then combining the Problem-Solving template with the “Template for Analyzing the Logic of the Article,” I realized that the outline for my paper…which I have been dreading…will almost work itself out. (I hope!). Not only are these tools great for research, but I believe they will also be great for structuring our own work.
I truly feel as though this book is the most helpful I have found in this course so far. It is truly one that I plan on keeping next to me during the next three years of writing. Perhaps this is the reason that you will not only find a number of reviews on these works, but also numerous websites that have listed this or a variance of this work on their site.
Daughty, Howard A. “The Limits of Critical Thinking.” The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 2006.
Elder, Linda & Richard Paul. Miniature Guide for Students and Faculty to Scientific Thinking. Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2013.
—. Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking. 2014.
 Elder, Linda & Richard Paul. Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking. 2014. Kindle.
 Daughty, Howard A. “The Limits of Critical Thinking.” The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 2006.
 Elder. Kindle.
 Titus 2:1.
 —. Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking. 2014.