I came across a fable recently that seemed to resonate. It goes like this; According…
What is critical thinking?
When we hear the phrase ‘critical thinking’ we tend to assume it is something we all do well but in modern day, this is rarely the case. Today we explore the skill of Critial thinking and how to apply it.
First, let’s explore what’s involved in thinking critically?
Wikipedia describes critical thinking as “the analysis of available facts, evidence, observations and arguments in order to form a judgement by the application of rational skeptical, and unbiased analyses and evaluation”.
Why is critical thinking so hard?
Critical thinking requires us to be uncomfortable. To go beyond the obvious and of simply accepting something at face value. For most of us, this is not something that we enjoying doing. In fact, this can feel quite unnatural, particularly if you are used to holding a particular position or viewpoint. Perhaps you hold a professional role where others look to you for direction – making it much more risky to challenge your own assumptions.
It’s important to say at this point that the lack of critical thinking is not linked to intelligence.
We are all busy and often it is not practical to doubt the things that make up our day to day. In fact, the art of critical thought has become far more difficult and time consuming than ever before. Our access to unlimited information has resulted in an overwhelming volume of material, often contradictory in content and views.
Critical thinking is more about habit forming, conscious awareness and strategy than it is about intellect.
How do we develop the skill of critical thinking?
To think critically requires us to see something objectively. Essentially , we need to view an issue from a point of neutrality by removing our personal feelings and bias. If we truly wish to think critically then we are obliged to change our minds when new information comes to light or when facts change – and that is hard!
Critical thinking is much required and a highly desired skill. To develop the practice of questioning, of letting go and of being willing to accept a change in postion is a skill that requires ongoing commitment and practice.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it – Albert Einstein
To practice this skill we must not seek information that confirms our point of view but rather, be committed to seeking alternative perspectives. Thinking critically is to challenge the opinion we hold, acknowledge our bias and evaluate new information. Then if through this process we come to hold a different view, we must be brave enough to let the old view go. In doing so we gather depth as people and hopefully, offer wisdom to the world.
Personal note: It is only through the challenge of our thoughts, beliefs and bias that we are able to develop and grow. I often laugh that when I was young I was so confident in my views and opinions, so black and white. Now, years later, all I see and the many shades of grey.
I hope you found this article thought provoking and helpful is some way.