Wonderful new idea for critical thinking exercises. This is the start of the gossip series. These are very general exercises that can be tailored to suit course needs and requirements. I would encourage class discussion of these exercises. Papers may also encourage individual reflection but aren't exactly necessary. I'm also promoting the use of a critical thinking and information literacy journal. Such a journal could be kept by students during the semester and used for discussion sessions. It's also a great way to get students more aware of their skills and where they need improvement.
Critical Thinking Exercises: Gossip Series 1 & 2When it comes to critical thinking, everything is fair game. Gossip may seem like a simple and inconsequential activity in several cases, but it is a great place to practice critical thinking skills. It’s also a great time to start working on critical thinking because gossip is so easy to break down. In the following exercises we’re not necessarily looking for answers. We’re looking for questions and patterns of thinking.
Find two entertainment stories. These will ideally be short articles pertaining to persons in the film or music industries. One should focus on a person you admire or at least like on some level. The other should focus on a person you cannot stand. Summarize both articles (one paragraph per piece).
Next, go through the articles line by line. Write down any questions or thoughts that come to mind as you read (no matter how sappy or snarky) in a journal entry. I will not be looking at these entries for substance. I just want to know you got your thoughts down on paper.
Write a brief paper discussing the following: What kinds of questions did you ask for each article? Did the questions and thoughts you had vary from article to article? Did you find yourself agreeing with one article more than the other? Which one? Do you know why? Provide some examples from your journal entry.
Exercise # 2
The next time you hear gossip at home, work, etc. write it down in your journal when you have a chance. Summarize what you heard without using real names or identifying information. When you were listening to the story, did you think of any questions or ask any out loud? Did you think something you didn’t share with the gossiper? Did you participate in the gossip? Why or why not?
After you’ve written everything down, review over the event a few times. Write down any new questions that come to mind? Do you trust the story? Why or why not? Does it matter if you trust the gossiper? Can you see your opinion of the story changing based on your feelings toward the gossiper or your feelings toward the subject of the story? Why or why not? How does this influence your view of fact versus opinion? How could you go about finding out whether or not the gossip is true?
Write a short paper detailing your experiences.
I need to give credit to my fabulous Mother for inspiring the gossip series. She uses her critical thinking skills to shred gossipers. Seriously, it always ends in metaphorical blood and guts. She does beautiful work.