- What is critical thinking?
- Why is critical thinking important?
- How do students develop critical thinking?
- Top critical thinking skills students need to know
- How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking. It’s one of those educational buzzwords related to academic skills that you've probably heard before. But what does it actually mean? And how can we make sure you are learning how to employ them correctly?
In this post, we’ll take a look at critical thinking skills: what they are, why they are important, and how to learn about them the right way so that you can apply them in your everyday lives.
What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking is making "clear, reasoned judgements" based on interpreting and analysing information from various sources. 🤔
A person who thinks critically does not just believe what they are told or blindly trust the information they see online. Rather, they ask questions and look at all evidence before coming to their own conclusions.
Why is critical thinking important?
The greatest benefit of critical thinking is simply that it helps you make more informed decisions in your everyday life.
Critical thinking is an essential skill in university, so teachers in primary and secondary schools focus on teaching students how to think critically in order to prepare them. Students must be able to problem-solve and process information in a critical manner in order to succeed.
Critical thinking is also an important skill when it comes to your professional life. Employers value people who tackle problems logically and are able to view situations from different perspectives in order to come up with the best solution.
➡️ In critical thinking, the term “critical” does not mean something negative. In this sense, critical simply means that you are questioning things.
How do you develop critical thinking?
Let's start with how students don’t develop critical thinking skills: by memorising them or learning them out of context! 🙅 You can’t just learn random critical thinking skills in isolation. Critical thinking skills need to be subject-specific for students to understand them well.
The type of critical thinking you might use in maths is very different from the type of critical thinking you might use during a literature discussion. In each part of school – and life! – your teachers and parents will probably already have prompted you to think critically by asking questions like:
- How do you know?
- What would you think if you were on the other side of the argument?
- Why is that important?
- What is an example of that?
Top critical thinking skills you need to know
The skills you need to think critically will depend on the content area, but there are some general ideas that can help you get started. You will need these skills in the future, so start practising them now. You’re never too young to start thinking critically! 💭
- Creativity – a necessary part of learning how to think critically. You need to be able to think flexibly and recognise that there are many ways to view the same situation. Participate in art and sports, each activity will give you a chance to look for different solutions to problems.
- Confidence – to help you to question what you read or hear. Don’t squash your natural tendency to question authority. Instead, find respectful ways to question why things are done a certain way.
- Learning independently – try to engage in activities and tasks that do not have one right answer. This will allow you to think critically about how you want to accomplish the task.
- Interactive learning – including hands-on work and tasks. In order to fully understand the topic and be able to think critically about it.
How to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills
The development of critical thinking skills takes time, but there are some straightforward ways to speed up the process. As a starting point, you can follow these steps to boost your own critical thinking process. They can be applied to a wide variety of situations!
- Identify the issue at hand. Whether it's a problem that needs solving or a question that needs an answer, begin the critical thinking process by pinpointing the issue.
- Accumulate. Collect as much information, research and data on the issue as possible.
- Assess the sources. Are they valid and unbiased? Examine your sources of information and determine their biases to ensure any opinions you are taking into consideration are backed up by evidence.
- Scrutinize the data and yourself. Decide what's really relevant; which arguments are actually useful; and focus on the most consequential pieces of information. Then self-evaluate and ask yourself if you were biased when seeking out that information.
- Synthesize the evidence to form your own conclusion. Decide on one or more possible conclusions. Evaluate the soundness of your conclusions and compare and contrast to help narrow down your final thoughts.
With critical thinking under your belt, you will be equipped to assess situations with confidence and remain mindful of the blogger picture at all times.