Chaffee, John 1946-

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CHAFFEE, John 1946-

PERSONAL: Born October 24, 1946, in New York, NY; son of Hubert Roe (an engineer and U.S. Coast Guard captain) and Charlotte (Hess) Chaffee; married Heide Lange (a literary agent), May 27, 1974. Education: Johns Hopkins University, B.A., 1967; New York University, Ph.D. (philosophy), 1972.

ADDRESSES: Home—102 Christopher St., New York, NY 10014. Offıce—LaGuardia College 31-10 Thompson Ave., Long Island City, NY 11101. Agent—Heide Lange, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc., 825 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Educator and writer. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, research assistant at Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, 1966; DuPont Co., London, England, personnel trainee, 1967; New York State Division for Youth, New York, NY, researcher, 1967-68; Human Resources Administration, New York, NY, social worker, 1968-78; LaGuardia Community College

of the City University of New York, assistant professor, 1976-80, professor, 1980—; writer, 1978—. Furniture designer and cabinetmaker, 1972—.

MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Named New York Educator of the Year, 1992; named distinguished educator in higher education, 1998; fellowship from New York University.


Designing and Making Fine Furniture, A & W Publishers (New York, NY), 1978.

(With sister, Judi Culbertson) Games America Played:An Informal History of Board Games in America, Scribner (New York, NY), 1979.

Thinking Critically, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1985, 7th edition, 2003.

The Thinker's Guide to College Success, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.

The Thinker's Way: Eight Steps to a Richer Life, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998, published as The Thinker's Way: Create the Life You Want, 2000.

(With Christine McMahon and Barbara Stout) CriticalThinking, Thoughtful Writing: A Rhetoric with Readings, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999, 2nd edition, 2002.

The Concise Guide to Thinking Critically, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Juvenile Delinquency in New York State, New York State Division for Youth, 1968.

SIDELIGHTS: Educator and author John Chaffee believes most people need to sharpen their thinking skills. As a whole, Americans have become a society of nonthinkers, according to the author of such books as The Thinker's Way: Eight Steps to a Richer Life and Thinking Critically. Chaffee gives seminars on improving thinking processes and has created a Web site devoted to the subject. He contends that learning to think clearly and reflectively is necessary to a worthwhile existence; lack of quality thought leads to general anxiety, family friction, and tension in the workplace. Unfortunately, schools tend to focus on imparting information to students rather than refining students' reasoning ability. In addition, for many adult Americans the sensory and informational bombardment characteristic of contemporary life make it difficult to think reflectively.

In The Thinker's Way: Eight Steps to a Richer Life Chaffee presents his approach to improving the quality of one's life. Topics covered include the importance of living creatively, learning to solve problems, making choices freely, and developing a values system. January Adams, a reviewer for Library Journal, called the author's style "sophisticated" and noted that the book is "abstract, philosophical, and inspirational" rather than "practical." A Publishers Weekly writer recommended: "As an introductory course in logical reasoning, this effort is superb."

Chaffee once told CA that he began woodworking as a means of supplementing his income when he found it difficult to get a teaching position. This led to his first published book, Designing and Making Fine Furniture. He added: "I believe very strongly that it is important for human beings to develop as many of their potentials as possible. Experiencing the many diverse dimensions of yourself is synergistically productive, avoids the staleness that often accompanies narrow interests, and enhances your vitality and aliveness as a person." In addition to lecturing widely on critical thinking and related topics, Chaffee is the creator of the Web site A ThinkingWorld.



Argumentation and Advocacy, winter, 1990, Richard Katula, review of Thinking Critically, p. 122.

Library Journal, August, 1998, January Adams, TheThinker's Way: Eight Steps to a Richer Life, p. 116.

Publishers Weekly, July 27, 1998, review of The Thinker's Way, p. 64.


A ThinkingWorld, (May 20, 2003).

Monthly Aspectarian, (May 20, 2003), interview with Chaffee.*

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