Exercise

Apply the questions developed in the first section of this chapter to the argument just outlined about higher education in Australia. What do you think of the reasoning? Is it strong? weak? Can it be improved? challenged? Write additional claims, with appropriate diagrams, that either improve on, counter, or further explore the issues raised in this argument. Then think about the general use of these analytical questions and structures in relation to your own reasoning: how can they help you to be a better smart thinker?

Review

Since reasoning is about knowledge, we must think about the epistemologies (philosophies of knowledge) that underpin the relationship between text and context. Questions can reveal the external boundaries of our topic and how it relates to other topics, knowledge, or audiences; questions can also reveal important aspects of our topic itself. The questioning process is not a 'once-off task that we complete and then forget: it is a continuous process that relates specifically to the way in which we set down our ideas in the analytical structure format.

This structure is most useful as a planning tool and differs from usual plans, which either involve unstructured concepts (mind-maps) or ideas arranged in the order that we will write them (a narrative sequence plan). The key advantage of the analytical structure format is that it lays out, in advance of writing or presentation, the structure of key claims and the links between them in a way that is driven by the analysis—the reasoning—rather than by the way we will present the argument or explanation.

CONCEPT CHECK

The following terms and concepts are introduced in this chapter. Before checking in the Glossary, write a short definition of each term:

intersubjective mind-map narrative sequence plan objective relativism

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