Critical thinking and Boris Pasternak

This week, some of my students are looking at aspects of critical thinking and models such as De Bono’s  Six Thinking Hats. Another model is Elder and Paul’s Universal Intellectual Standards – no modest in the title, at least. What Elder and Paul suggest is that there are 7 key standards that can be applied and ‘infused in the thinking of students’. These include Clarity – students should ask if their statements or questions are clear and this is the ‘gateway standard’. The other standards are Accuracy, Precision, Relevance, Depth, Breadth and Logic. While the title might be seen as grandiose, the content provides some very useful advice and guidance that we might pass on to students and might consider ourselves when we are communicating in some form. I hope that’s clear enough, so it passes the first standard at least.

Browsing my bookshelves, I come across a 1965 book of Boris Pasternak’s  poems. Pasternak is most famous for the novel Dr Zhivago and those of you of a certain age may have seen the film and perhaps even read the book. The first poem in the book (Poems 1955-1959) is about writing and contains the lines: ‘I’d lay out my stanzas/Like landscape gardens; A shiver of sap/And my lines would bloom into rows of lime trees./I’d air my stanzas with mint and roses/With haymaking, rushes /And rolling storms’. Invigorating. Any resemblance to lime trees in the lines of this blog is purely accidental.

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