Mind over Matter


The first week of most college classes is very overwhelming. You have to scan multiple syllabi, documents, chapters, and handouts - and the deadlines mount! 

The author of Becoming a Strategic Thinker, James Potter, explains the thinking process and how we obtain knowledge. No matter which topic we major in - all of it begins with our minds ability to process information. That's the cornerstone of any successful critical thinking course. 

First off, learn your vocabulary!

Potter pulls important terms and phrases out into the margins of his book and encourages everyone to commit them to memory. 

Knowledge Structure

How You Think = Knowledge Structure

My Knowledge Structure is a cluttered mess of highlights, post-it notes, and squirrels feverishly looking for nuts in a desert! I struggle very hard to keep everything straight - considering I have two kids in college, husband working on his Masters - and I have all you lovely students as well. Needless to say, my mind is completely overworked!

So, I must find ways to keep all this mental information straight. That is what the first few chapters discuss. What is a Knowledge Structure and What exactly is your particular Knowledge structure compared to everyone else? One of the most important aspects of critical thinking discussed by Potter is discerning between fact and opinion.

Fact: Bits of information that are raw, unprocessed, and context-free

Opinion: Bits of information that are just the opposite: processed, bias, and full of subjective context.

A tip to critical thinking is playing detective and separating all fact from opinion and discovering the actual message in the information.

  1. Seek Facts
  2. Remove subjective thinking
  3. Seek out the objective message


Kelly Perez, Adjunct Professor