Posted by: otstoryteller | June 10, 2017

Critical thinking – Elder & Paul

The Foundation for Critical Thinking publishes multiple guides for the process of thinking. The aspiring thinker’s guide to critical thinking by Elder & Paul (2009) is a brief, user-friendly monograph. They identify 3 levels of CT. From less to more, they include:

The Naive Thinker, The Selfish Critical Thinker, and the Fair-minded Critical Thinker. The last is someone who wants to make the world better for everyone. Personally I would hope that politicians would have this as their core belief, yet from what we hear/read on the news we have a majority of Selfish Critical Thinkers running many governments in this world. At this time, in the USA, we seem to have too many such “thinkers” in the Federal and many State governments. This is shifting priorities and protections away from the public good and I fear how the earth, atmosphere, and the lives of future humans will be impacted.

The core values of occupational therapy include the promotion of health in individuals, groups, and society. We must seek justice and health for all.


Posted by: otstoryteller | March 5, 2017

Thinking can be difficult

Continuing on a theme…critical thinking can be quite difficult. The hardest part may be that we are changing how we receive information (now primarily through video/images rather than text) and while many do think very well in images (Temple Grandin as an exemplar), I am not sure images lend themselves to full argument analysis for the rest of us.

I am currently reading Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, originally published in 1985, but re-released by his son in 2005, and lent to me a few weeks ago by a faculty colleague.  Postman’s argument begins with the differences in both thinking and communicating found at different times in human history. Early on he discusses the high literacy levels in the US during the early decades of the country.

Coupling Postman’s thoughts with Kahneman’s leads to the premise that we must expend much more effort in our personal and collective decision making.  We also need to demand this of our politicians at all levels.  [Cue here the argument, written by many, that we must protect our planet from short term gains that will cause long term harm.]

Posted by: otstoryteller | February 19, 2017

Critical thinking (CT)

At least a year ago I found myself saying “You’re never to old to make the wrong decision” and then forced myself to change the self-talk because it sounded so negative (and I surely didn’t want to compound the problem).  I find myself revisiting the statement lately. (That is purely a personal toss-out; not the main topic of this post. I guess I’m sharing so you know you are not alone if you recognize the statement.)

I am finally finishing “Thinking Fast and Slow” by D. Kahneman, thanks to a book club on campus. This book is teaching me that, like most humans, I do too much System One, quick think when I really need to parse out and appraise what is important. It is just so challenging to do, most of the time. However, it is fascinating to discover that even more disciplines than education, philosophy, and psychology actually analyze critical thinking. Kahneman won a Nobel Prize in economics.

For a number of years I have been working with small groups of people to determine the best ways to teach critical thinking within occupational therapy (and medicine, and other disciplines) and while there is a lot of agreement, there is also the concept that critical thinking is discipline specific, so ‘must’ be defined differently depending upon context.

When considering clinical reasoning it expands the issue exponentially. Some people do not separate the concepts, others do. I am in the later camp.

I am still seeking answers. Please feel free to weigh in on whether you believe  CT is distinct within OT and, if so, what makes it unique.

Posted by: otstoryteller | July 10, 2016

Open Questions about US Society Today

I ask forgiveness/tolerance in advance – this post is tangential to this blog. I just needed to express these thoughts.

  • Have we lost touch with reality? Or are we just too insular to realize that reality differs depending upon who we are, where we live, and what we invest in ourselves?
  • Have we totally lost the concept of personal responsibility?
  • Do we no longer believe that the work we do results in the life we live?
  • Have so many of our schools been starved that we no longer educate all of our citizenry so that they can think critically about how the present affects the future?
  • Are people so brainwashed by television and other media that they do not see the bigger picture of what makes a responsible life?

I fear that too many of our children have not had an education that enables them to think independently (and that this has been happening for decades, so many adults cannot/do not think deeply and independently).

I know that too many of us have no idea how people different from ourselves actually live and what challenges they face.

I know that the media (all of it) portrays ways of living that most of us cannot even aspire to, yet that way appears to be THE way to want to live.

Yes, I believe the economics in this country are terribly skewed and need to be repaired.

I believe that people deserve an education and healthcare.

I believe people need to live their own lives by civil standards, but may not impose their values upon others who are living by their own civil standards.

I believe that we must recognize that the constitution was a document written in a specific period of time and must be interpreted in that light (as Ginsburg and Warren have each pointed out).

I believe that Congress needs to strip the ability to tack on amendments to resolutions so that issues can be dealt with directly. I also believe elected positions should have term limits, the same healthcare as the public, and no retirement benefits beyond those accrued during the time served (similar to any other regular job, and yes, knowing that many regular jobs do not offer any retirement benefits).

I sincerely hope we can find the means to increase dialog to resolve our challenges.

Posted by: otstoryteller | June 1, 2015

Reminiscence of Change

I’ve been reading about clinical reasoning today. I remember when occupational therapists first started using the term. It was a confusing time; anxiety-provoking – what was this new concept??  Then we realized that it was something we had been doing for a long time, but now it had a name.  Of course, it changed a lot over the next thirty years and is still being tweaked regarding what we call it now, how we describe it, how we teach it…

Then there was Evidence Based Practice. Another “new” concept that was not so new, but had a new name. Similar horror reaction to needing to learn about this new concept and then similar accommodation when discovering it was not as strange as initially thought.

I’m sure there are other concepts that fit this profile (sensory integration?).

I wonder what the next will be.

Posted by: otstoryteller | June 1, 2015

Personal Challenge

Once more time has vanished and my resolve to post regularly failed; though not as severely as in the past (months, not years). This post is more personal than professional (if you want to skip it).

Some challenges had come up for me that had me saying: “You never outgrow the chance to make poor decisions” (or something to that effect.  I used it for a few weeks and then realized it was terrible self-talk, so stopped repeating it.

I recall marveling at a fieldwork student (decades ago) who had such positive, natural communication with school children – it was a kind of talk I had heard of in personal growth workshops, but had not experienced a lot of personally. Hence, the marvel that it could be done so easily and by one so young. It still takes conscious effort to keep my general talk, and self-talk, universally positive. I suppose I should just accept that fact, just as I still need to force myself to exercise despite the lofty goal of a fit body. I guess it is similar to any other habit…just got to do it long enough to make it natural. I just fall back on the thought that positive thoughts make so much more sense than negative, why aren’t they the natural way for me by now.

I should (and here I hear the voice that says “Don’t should on yourself”) think of myself as in Recovery – from negative thoughts – and that Recovery is a journey, not a destination.  That takes a lot of the burden off.  Glad I came back to post.

Posted by: otstoryteller | January 25, 2015


I find this so true – even in higher education (though with contextual differences):

The Hard Part

Especially so when combined with memory-overload intensified by stress.  It is challenging to be a therapist for yourself as you are employed full time to be a therapist/educator for so many others. It requires some therapeutic intervention to stay on top of all of our responsibilities and attempt to maintain balance within our lives.

Posted by: otstoryteller | December 21, 2014


No sooner did I post on habits, then this post came along (beginning with a post on Creativity – also intriguing) and I thought, sleep is a domain of occupational therapy, why not post this link?  So, enjoy:

Posted by: otstoryteller | December 21, 2014


Habit is an area of focus within occupational therapy. It forms a subset of the Model of Human Occupation and is found within other models of practice, as well as our Occupational Therapy Practice Framework. Kielhofner wrote about habits in 1982; and in 2011 there was a blogpost on habits by , in which she cited an AJOT article that addressed habits (from 2005). Historically, occupational therapists’ intervention early in the 1900s was referred to as Habit Training. Yet apparently, there is little current published attention to habit (at least according to a quick Google search). Is this becoming one more of “our” domains that is being commandeered by others? Or, has occupational therapy merely adopted a public domain as one of its own?

‘Internet Evidence’ from a variety of popular sources has it that habit formation takes approximately 21-30 days. Some claim this duration to develop a new habit (with another 30 days to reinforce it). But this is disputed. James Clear, a blogger I recently stumbled across, has a small book and a blogpost on this topic that makes sense. I appreciate his work/searching in this area. I am just disappointed that he is not an occupational therapist sharing this with the world.

My seeking information on habits was reinforced recently by prompts a question about what is required to break/change an existing habit. According to Clear, it involves a system that will replace the old habit – that one cannot just break a habit – it leaves a vacuum.  This makes total sense, especially to an OT. The task becomes finding the right replacement.

If there are any budding pre-PhD/OTD readers stopping by, it might be beneficial to investigate this area as a potential focus of research.

Posted by: otstoryteller | December 7, 2014

Rules for Being Human (source unknown)

Many years ago I encountered a small set of Rules for Being Human (and if you know the true source, please let me know – it does come up on multiple web pages (with variations) and is available as a poster) which I will list below.  I keep a small framed copy of them in my office. Over the years I have shared these with students when they feel overwhelmed by OT school.

What brought the Rules to mind just now is how the last two rules are ever-present in my life, whether being human (me) or being an educator: I am forever in the throws of #10 – I forget a lot; at least in my surface awareness. I suspect my memory is impaired by stress and overload (what adult memory isn’t?) – and #11 does occasionally come to my rescue, especially when attending faculty development workshops or talking with colleagues. There are many moments when I remember that I know how to set up relevant educational experiences, I just sometimes get too lost in the day to day stuff of life to actually do the prep work (or leave enough time to do that prep work well). So, instead of beating myself up over it, it is good to re-read the Rules, and remember that I am not alone. I will state that #4 can be a real annoyance; especially when the feedback is limited. But I do believe attitude is incredibly important and keeping a positive one helps a great deal.

The Rules For Being Human

  1. You will receive a body.

You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period of this time around.

  1. You will learn lessons.

You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.

  1. There are no mistakes, only lessons.

Growth is a process of trial and error: Experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.”

  1. A lesson is repeated until learned.

A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.

  1. Learning lessons does not end.

There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

  1. “There” is no better than “here.”

When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.”

  1. Others are merely mirrors of you.

You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

  1. What you make of your life is up to you.

You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

  1. Your answers lie inside you.

The answers to Life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

  1. You will forget all this.
  2. You can remember it whenever you want.

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