A few years back, I enrolled in a distance education program that was technology-based. At the last minute, the powers that be decided (likely for accreditation reasons) that they need to give us introductory courses on critical thinking, conflict resolution and so on. I would have been more interested in these subjects at the time had I not been preparing to sit the certification exam for my field of study. Nevertheless, critical thinking intrigued me, likely because I found I was already doing it to some extent.
Critical thinking has been defined as: “the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it.” (from criticalthinking.org)
Well, Peg Tittle wrote the book on critical thinking. Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason is the title of a university textbook she published in 2011. She has also published various collections of her “think pieces” (some may call them emotional rants, but that’s not a true label) in print form, and she has a website pegtittle.com where you can see all of the many things she is doing in the field of critical thinking and beyond. I also reviewed her 2016 fiction book What About Tom? here.
Now we have this new collection entitled Just…Think About It. (Ms. Tittle provided a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review). I’m going to say here at the outset that while I cannot agree or do agree with everything Ms. Tittle says, it did cause me to “think about it” which is all she really asks. It’s my belief that we do not devote enough time in our busy schedule to “analyze and evaluate” our thinking, our beliefs, our way of life. Anything that can help us to do this should be welcome.
Ms. Tittle’s book covers a wide range of topics (too numerous to mention), and she has endeavoured to group them together by subject. Some are only a page long, others cover several pages and are more like essays, but they will all make you think!
Here’s an example on the topic of being functionally illiterate (reprinted here with Ms. Tittle’s kind permission):
Oh the horror.
On yet another occasion during which I was stunned by one of my neighbour’s stupidity and ignorance, it suddenly occurred to me that the person I was speaking with probably hadn’t read a book since high school. 
Then it occurred to me that that was probably true for most people.
I tried to imagine what that would be like. What my mind would be like if I hadn’t read a book, not one book, in the last, say, forty years.
Oh the horror.
Because what could possibly go on inside such a mind?
In addition to their high school history and geography textbooks, through which they might have plodded here and there, they might have read, perhaps, a dozen novels, in all. Library books for the annual book review assignment in English class. Who is the main character? Describe the setting. What is the main conflict?
They may as well be illiterate. They are, essentially. They’re functionally illiterate. Because yes, they can and probably do read package labels and price tags, but what else?
The newspaper. Which is pretty much nothing but exposition. Low-level description. No analysis. No critique.
What if everyone read just one non-fiction book a week? What if employers rewarded them for doing so, as many of them do now for physical exercise: in addition to so many points per kilometer, because it reduces their healthcare costs, so many points per page, because – Ah, there’s the rub. What’s in it for them? Nothing. In fact, on the contrary, it’s to their advantage not to have their employees develop knowledge, understanding, critical ability.
Okay, so what if the government implemented such a reward program? Well, it’s not really in their best interests either. Which explains, perhaps, why the education system doesn’t mandate critical thinking courses.
Of course, if parents … But every time they say “Because I said so,” they stomp on critical thinking. It’s just easier that way, I guess.
So in whose interests is it be critical? Our own, of course. Otherwise, we’re suckers to manipulation by media. Corporations. Government. Anyone who puts their own self-interest before yours.
But in our society, the word “critical” has negative connotations. It’s bad to be critical.
Oh the horror.
1. Yes, it then occurred to me that s/he probably hadn’t read a book during high school either.
I believe the above provides a fine example of what you can expect when you read Just…Think about It.
As I mentioned earlier, you may not agree with her viewpoint, and while this is not the type of book you sit down and read cover to cover, you can pick it up and start reading anywhere. Then, just…think about what you read.
Just…Think About It by Peg Tittle
Just..Think About It is available in paperback and Kindle formats (only $3.82 at the time of this post!).
*Please note if you choose to purchase this book through Amazon using the link below I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2PYZLV8 Thanks!