If we are not prepared to think for ourselves,
and to make the effort to learn how to do this well,
we will always be in danger of becoming slaves
to the ideas and values of others due to our own ignorance.
Critical thinking is often characterized as a scientific or analytical way of thinking. It helps us form more knowledgeable and informed opinions and should lead us into making better decisions. So, how do you develop this beneficial skill and learn to think more critically?
Critical thinking is not the same as higher intelligence. In simple terms, it is just a more logical way to think about solutions from all angles. Some people may have stronger critical thinking skills than others, but everyone can all learn how to improve, develop and apply their minds better. Here are a few suggestions that may help you strengthen your critical thinking skills:
1. Clarify. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. You will not be able to reasonably analyze a situation and locate a solution if you are not completely clear on what you are trying to accomplish!
It is also important that you place your own feelings about the situation aside. You cannot get a clear or full understanding of an issue if you have prejudiced opinions and biases about it, and allow these to interfere.
2. Look at all solutions. Take some time with a pen and paper to define all of the possibilities. At this time you will also want to map out how you might be able to reach each of these solutions.
Also write out the benefits and challenges of each of the solutions. In order to improve and develop your critical thinking skills, you must be open to new ideas. So it is important that you try to incorporate as much as you can into your list.
3. Get informed. Next, gather as much information as possible to support all of the solutions you have under consideration. But also gather the information you need to refute them.
Considering your solutions from all angles will keep you from making a haphazard decision, which would not be classified as critical thinking.
4. Learn how to analyze. Now you have a problem, you have a list of solutions, and all the information you need to support or refute each of those decisions. So what do you do with it all?
At this point, you will need time to analyze everything. Take everything into consideration and do not assume anything. Make sure that you have irrefutable evidence to back everything up. The more you practice this, the better you will ultimately get at it, and the easier it will be.
5. Finish. Make an intelligent conclusion to your original problem. Make sure you have the documentation to back up and prove your decision. Always make sure that this reasonable conclusion is also relatively simple to put into action.
If you have put the time and effort into analyzing the problem and gathering the information, your conclusion should be able to support itself.
By following the steps outlined here, you have just used your critical thinking skills! Though, like many other things, it may seem unnatural at first, as you continue to practice these strategies, your critical thinking skills will continue to improve and develop.
Thinking critically can help you with many aspects in your life. Keep practicing these skills on a regular basis and soon you will be able to enjoy the benefits of better decisions and superior choices!