Thinking 2



It’s been fourteen years since Marj and I last visited what was our favorite vacation spot for a decade–Mackinaw, Michigan. Marj’s two sisters from southern Michigan, joined us two days of our week stay in early September. It was fun to visit with them and to see Mackinaw, essentially unchanged. I took photos of the Mackinaw Bridge for reference to create future paintings and finished three last week.

I chose this one in keeping with our theme: ‘critical thinking’. I enjoy the construction documentary of the “Mighty Mac” from the mid 1950s. For half a century this 5-mile long bridge held the record for the longest suspension bridge in the world. It truly involved ‘critical thinking’ to become a reality.


Last week we considered how ‘thinking’—this mental activity of rummaging that recalls, organizes and arranges—might apply to our goal: ‘To follow Jesus’. Today’s focus is critical thinking. By definition, critical thinking is criteria-based judgment, not criticism as a negative experience.

I was impressed with Brian Oshiro’s Ted Talk (Ted x Xiquan) last February in Guangzhou, China. He spoke on how teachers in China could further creative thinking in their students. They saw their students as mostly rote learners of facts.

What types of questions do teachers ask? Questions are a way to bring textbook to life and see if students are absorbing what they are supposed to be learning. Not all questions are crated equally. Oshiro places questions in three categories, or depths, and illustrates each with A, B and C below, dealing with climate change.

A. Do you know what climate change is? [Answerable from a rote memory definition: right or wrong answers]

B. What are three causes of climate change? [Requires a little more thinking to access more rote memory facts: right or wrong answers] Good for trivia quizzes, not much for practical living.

C. How can you help solve this problem? [Students must synthesize all their previous knowledge, and figure out how to make it their own, and be able to apply it: there may be different answers].

Asking higher order questions is the key to stimulate critical thinking. Give students questions likely to have more than one correct answer. This is what life is like. In real life, not often is there a simple straight-line answer telling us how to get from point A to B.   It is more like a squiggly line. There is no blueprint.

You will find this talk in detail on YouTube: ‘Encourage critical thinking with 3 questions’ | Brian Oshiro | TEDxXiguan

What is the ‘take away’ from this information?

Last week we asked: How might ‘thinking’—this mental activity that recalls, organizes and arranges–apply to following Jesus? It starts with clarifying the goal. In this case we said: ‘To follow Jesus’.   Where do I start? We applied two questions.   Today let’s attempt applying three levels of critical thinking to our goal.

A.  What is a ‘follower of Jesus’?

B.  Name two persons from the New Testament and two from more modern days you see as ‘followers of Jesus’.

C.  Choose one from each category. Why did you to identify them as ‘followers of Jesus’? What specifically did you observe, and how can your observations be implemented this week in pursuit of the goal to be a ‘follower of Jesus’?

You may replace ‘C’ above, with one of two scriptures found at the end of last week’s ‘Though’, and apply critical thinking in pursuit of your goal.

“ How can a young (or older!) person keep his/her way pure? By living according to your word…I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9, 11 NIV

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice.  Philippians 4:8, 9 NIV

It took extraordinary critical thinking on the part of many to conceive, design, finance and build the Mackinaw Bridge. I see need for this same critical thinking application in the spiritual formation or building ‘followers of Jesus’.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple (building) of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV

“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22 NIV

Next Week: Resources






2 thoughts on “Thinking 2

  1. I’ve heard it said it’s best to ask “open ended” questions as they promote group discussion rather than “closed” questions which aim for the one correct answer with no discussion. Those who answered incorrectly are further discouraged from future participation..


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