Most people have difficulty learning not because they don't think but because their maps and standards do not represent the new territory to be learned. Your map says go this way at this speed, but in the new territory you end up in a box canyon, back where you started, or emotionally run off the road. If you are an explorer or adventurer, you understand this problem and keep good notes (a journal), draw new maps, and learn new ways of acting. I suppose this also sharpens your thinking.
Most new territory in higher education requires the student to learn new words and number concepts. Thus to understand photosynthesis requires that you learn the Krebs cycle, to understand supply and demand requires that you understand relative scarcity, and to understand correlation requires that you understand the concepts variable and variability and the attributes of scale.
Most new territory in higher education is experimental and conceptual. The experimental territory (lab classes, field trips) provides a basis for learning through trial and checking for error. The conceptual territory provides a basis for learning in theory by setting out the paradigms within which events occur. Most modern problems cannot be solved without abstract thought, often of the highest order. Sometimes the solutions are simple and elegant; sometimes they are complex and clumsy. "You could be right and I could be wrong" is a simple solution to personal bias. Planned parenthood is a complex and clumsy solution to overpopulation (but still one that does work).
The map below contains some language and is organized in a way so that you can upgrade your thinking and learning maps. It is a three-part map (it leaves out its own aesthetic or literary character) which you can use to understand new intellectual territory--if you learn the language and the organization. Look up the words and try to organize around this three-part scheme. (Glossary)
There are three kinds of claims (and a hundred varieties) synthetic, analytic, and normative. These claims correspond roughly to the categories defined by statements of fact, concept, and value. They also correspond roughly to the categories defined by propositions, definitions, and judgments. Claims can also be empirical or non-empirical and the words can indicate both positive (measurable) and normative (consensual) conditions. Notice my three-part divisions below.
Figure 1: Various Vocabulary Casad Frequently Uses to Describe and Analyze Types of Claims, Assertions, or Hypotheses.
|Basis: To do||Basis: To think||Basis: To feel|
|factual (true/false)||logical (valid/invalid)||ethical (right/wrong)|
|makes sense||stands to reason||sounds good|
|statement of fact||statement of definition||statement of value|