All thinking occurs within, and across, disciplines and domains of knowledge and experience, yet few students learn how to think well within those domains. Despite having taken many classes, few are able to think biologically, chemically, geographically, sociologically, anthropologically, historically, artistically, ethically, or philosophically. Students study literature, but do not think in a literary way as a result. They study poetry, but do not think poetically. They do not know how to think like a reader when reading, nor how to think like a writer while writing, nor how to think like a listener while listening. Consequently they are poor readers, writers, and listeners. They use words and ideas, but do not know how to think ideas through, and internalize foundational meanings. They take classes but cannot make connections between the logic of a discipline and what is important in life. Even the best students often have these deficiencies.
To study well and learn any subject is to learn how to think with discipline within that subject. It is to learn to think within its logic, to:
- raise vital questions and problems within it, formulating them clearly and precisely
- gather and assess information, using ideas to interpret that information insightfully
- come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards
- adopt the point of view of the discipline, recognizing and assessing, as needs be, its assumptions, implications, and practical consequences
- communicate effectively with others using the language of the discipline and that of educated public discourse
- relate what one is learning in the subject to other subjects and to what is significant in human life