I started with the idea that I don’t do critical thinking. Pause. I thought, wait, what? How should I do critical thinking and can I teach it to myself?
What is it?
The first thing was to define critical thinking.
“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”The Foundation for Critical Thinking
The concept is that critical thinking is creating connections between ideas and evaluating the information critically.
What do I have to do?
The questions you ask yourself are:
- what do you already know?
- how do you know that?
- what are you trying to prove?
- what are you overlooking?
These are research questions you ask as you learn more about subjects and think critically about them.
How can I be a better Critical Thinker?
Critical thinkers are balanced thinkers. Critical Thinkers are not heavily biased to one world view over another. You need to be more balanced! Think about where you get your information from. Who do you speak to and what are their world views? As a result, you are better balanced and a better critical thinker.
Another example of good critical thinking is being disciplined in your thoughts. Use your emotional intelligence to be more self aware and regulate your emotions. Therefore think before speaking and consider how you feel about a subject before commenting.
In addition, you should focus on the destination not the drama. This maxim is true in life as well as Critical Thinking. However, here we are reasoning that the important concepts are in the destination, not the drama involved in personalities or world views and values.
Finally, I want to share with you the assumptions that I have made in my writing. I want to help you think critically about this piece.
One assumption is that critical thinking is good for you and the world. The next is that you are willing to learn and be involved in learning how to do it. These assumptions are key to helping you know where my bias and assumptions come from.
Problems you will come across
Critical thinking is not an automated process and as humans we like automated processes. I want to never think about breathing or digestion. These are automated processes. However, critical thinking takes up energy and therefore is hard to do.
Above all, if you make everything automated including how you consume information, you are at risk of being manipulated.
Ignorant Certainty is finding out that there isn’t a right answer and you have to think about it. I found this in my English Essays at school. Why weren’t they like a Chemistry test? Why did I need to think about the question and what I already knew, what assumptions I could make and then explain Jane Eyre?
The next stage is Naive Realism where you know that there isn’t a right answer but you can’t explain why one answer is more valid than another. This was the case when the BBC would offer the climate sceptics an equal platform to the climate activists. Naive Realism means there is no absolute truth but all answers are equal.
After that is Critical Thinking. Some truths are more valid than others. But you have considered the arguments and connected the ideas.
Things to Try
Oblique Strategies is a card-based method for promoting creativity jointly created by musician/artist Brian Eno and multimedia artist Peter Schmidt, first published in 1975. Physically, it takes the form of a deck of 7-by-9-centimetre (2.8 in × 3.5 in) printed cards in a black box. Each card offers a challenging constraint intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking.
Each card contains a gnomic suggestion, aphorism or remark which can be used to break a deadlock or dilemma situation. A few are specific to music composition; others are more general. For example:
- Use an old idea.
- State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
- Only one element of each kind.
- What would your closest friend do?
- Something to increase? Where to reduce?
- Are there sections? Consider transitions.
- Try faking it!
- Honour thy error as a hidden intention.
- Ask your body.
- Work at a different speed.
Reverse the Problem like which came first the chicken or the egg? Then you can examine the problem by coming at it from the back or the front. Next time you can be more creative.
How can I help?
If you want to learn more and help develop your critical thinking, coaching can really help. Come back to me if you’d like a chat.