Cultivating the Traits of a Thinker

Are there certain traits that the best thinkers consistently display? In a recent article, business journalist Drake Baer highlights seven dispositions of thinking. Based on the research of Harvard education scholar Shari Tishman, such traits as curiosity, planning, and evaluating reasons are put forward as inclinations that “allow people to fully engage with knotty intellectual problems.”

[quote style=”boxed” float=”right” source=”— OUR VISION for a Classical Christian School”]Critical thinking not only seeks to understand and evaluate someone else’s argument, but even more importantly, it is learning to critique one’s own reasoning in order to better it…Students at Providence will learn the virtue of disciplined, critical thought, so that their love and pursuit of truth may benefit not only themselves but also be of service to others.[/quote]

At Providence we work with students to acquire these intellectual dispositions. Our teachers strive to help students grow in their inclinations to use their minds effectively. For instance, by reading diverse literature from Aristotle, Shakespeare and Steinbeck, students are exposed to broad ways of thinking. Our discussion-based curriculum enables students to foster intellectual curiosity as they explore such topics as DNA strands or democratic governments. Students become intellectually careful as they evaluate sources in their written work or debate the policies of Louis XIV.

As the article points out, gaining a proper thinking disposition comes through effort, and at Providence we cultivate attitudes towards thinking by using a broad and rigorous curriculum which, under the guidance of excellent teachers, produces students ready to make full use of their intellectual abilities.

Dr. Patrick Egan, Dean of the Upper School