With not too much effort, you can find a template to tell you how to do almost anything: write a business letter, construct a thesis, churn out a pulp novel. This is one kind of scaffolding that you can use for greater or lesser effect in the art of writing, but there's an even more important one that kicks in before you even start your outline, and that's the metastructure of critical thinking. Critical thinking and writing are closely tied.
While templates can give you an idea of what to write and how to write it, critical thinking structures how you approach writing. It's the logical underpinning that determines how effectively you communicate.
And it comes in four stages:
- Knowledge: Knowledge concerns data and information: ultimately, what you know. These are the building blocks of great writing, and as with any building blocks, if they're not there, your writing won't stand. At this stage, you should be able to list out answers to the who, what, where, when, why and how questions, and have all your definitions in order.
- Comprehension: It's one thing to have the information, but it's another thing entirely to understand it. Answer the question "What does it mean?" Can you describe it in your own words? Determine which details from the knowledge you have are relevant to the writing you're doing. What points do you need to communicate , and what best illustrates that?
- Application: Here's where critical thinking and writing really begin to intersect. Take the topic you're focusing on and apply your knowledge and comprehension of the subject to it. Show how the topic is related to the knowledge, how it changes as a result of the knowledge, what the implications are and what is significant. Give examples, illustrate details and propose conclusions.
- Analysis: In stages 2 and 3, you're synthesizing information—bringing it together and putting it into context. In step 4, you look at it from another perspective: you want to categorize, classify and dissect the topic. What evidence can you present? What are the salient features?
If you'd like to learn more about critical thinking and writing, contact Hurley Write !