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More Thoughts About Critical Thinking

critical thinking

In my latest blog, The Importance of Developing Critical Thinking Skills, I touched on the fact that critical thinking is not officially taught in school until one gets to higher education. I’m talking Master’s and Doctoral level education. As a speaker, coach, mentor and trainer, I really find this is shortchanging our children and our world!

Critical thinking skills can be taught to very young children through play and through stories.

Reading to young children is one of the best things parents can do help their children develop critical thinking. And, yes, parents have the greatest role in helping their children develop critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking tends to lead one to examine their own lives.

And, as Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

People who are devoted critical thinkers consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably and empathically. They tend to be keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of undisciplined human thinking.

It’s Never Too Late To Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Everyone thinks because that’s what human beings do. However, most of our thought processes are unconscious and the results are often biased, distorted, uninformed and prejudiced. If you’ve not yet discovered this, let me make it clear that the quality of our individual lives depends on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.

If you have not developed critical thinking skills, it’s never too late to learn. I love Linda Elder’s definition of critical thinking. She says, “Critical thinking is a self-guided, self-disciplined way of thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.” Elder is an author and Executive Director of The Foundation for Critical Thinking. She also says that critical thinkers, “realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest. They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society.”

Problem Solvers Tend To Be Critical Thinkers

As you can see, even the most practiced critical thinkers know they can always be better. The most important aspect is to continually strive to be more adept. Problem solving tends to lead to greater critical thinking. You have to examine the problem you are attempting to solve in a variety of ways to arrive at the most effective solution. So, whatever kind of problems you are faced with, from repairing appliances to solving political crises, and everything in between, you have the opportunity to explore your critical thinking skills.

Questions Open The Door To Critical Thinking

Questions open up the mind to critical thinking. Instead of teaching children to simply ask “why” they can be taught to ask questions that ultimately lead to greater communication and critical thinking skills and a richer, more rewarding life.

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