Critical Reading v. Critical Thinking
For example, consider the following (somewhat humorous) sentence from a student essay:
Parents are buying expensive cars for their kids to destroy them.As the terms are used here, critical reading is concerned with figuring out whether, within the context of the text as a whole, "them" refers to the parents, the kids, or the cars, and whether the text supports that practice. Critical thinking would come into play when deciding whether the chosen meaning was indeed true, and whether or not you, as the reader, should support that practice.
definitions, critical reading
would appear to come before critical thinking: Only once we have fully
understood a text (critical reading) can we truly evaluate its assertions
Critical thinking allows us to monitor our understanding as we read. If we sense that assertions are ridiculous or irresponsible (critical thinking), we examine the text more closely to test our understanding (critical reading).
critical thinking depends on critical reading. You can think critically about
a text (critical thinking), after all, only if you have understood it (critical
reading). We may choose to accept or reject a presentation, but we must know
why. We have a responsibility to ourselves, as well as to others, to
isolate the real issues of agreement or disagreement. Only then can we
understand and respect other people’s views.
To recognize and understand those views, we must read critically.
The usefulness of the distinction lies in its reminder that we must read
each text on its own merits, not imposing our
prior knowledge or views on it. While we must evaluate ideas as we read, we
must not distort the meaning within a text. We must not allow ourselves to
force a text to say what we
would otherwise like it to say—or we will never learn anything new!
Thinking Critically: Evaluating The EvidenceReading to see what a text says may suffice when the goal is to learn specific information or to understand someone else's ideas. But we usually read with other purposes. We need to solve problems, build roads, write legislation, or design an advertising campaign. We must evaluate what we have read and integrate that understanding with our prior understanding of the world. We must decide what to accept as true and useful.
As readers, we want to accept as fact only that which is actually true. To evaluate a conclusion, we must evaluate the evidence upon which that conclusion is based. We do not want just any information; we want reliable information. To assess the validity of remarks within a text, we must go outside a text and bring to bear outside knowledge and standards.
What Is Critical Reading?
What Is Critical Thinking?