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How to Develop Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is often perceived as something intrinsic. As students receive home task to constitute a critical essay, many of them ask a question - what it means to be critical. What should I write to achieve the highest mark? Should I adopt a logical approach in writing? Should I express doubts about everything? The answer is rather yes than no, yet critical writing is not about doubts and logic.

 

Without a comprehensive understanding of what critical thinking is, it is difficult for a person to start thinking critically. Bad news: critical thinking is not an innate ability. Good news: critical thinking can be developed. In fact, critical thinking development is a necessity for an independent individual, since the ability to think critically allows a person to identify and resist the attempts of manipulation, to structure and clarify thoughts, and interpret information correctly.

 

In order to develop critical thinking in writing, one should come to self-acknowledgement. You should try to observe yourself from the outside, to evaluate and analyze your decisions, to identify mental mistakes. Before writing down your critical essay, scroll through your experience, emotions, logical arguments and reasoning for the topic given. Bear in mind, our memory is not an exact copy of the facts and events. Everything that we remember now is a knowledge gotten through our perception. It is important to analyze ourselves as it helps develop metacognition. Our prior knowledge influence the selectiveness of our memory of what to remember: it defines what is important and what is not. Memory gives us a set of materials needed, allows to manage available information and to compare and contrast new experience with existing knowledge. Below, there are 6 approaches to critical thinking:

 

1. Think as Sherlock Homes 

Deductive thinking is a valid conclusion based on the assumptions, judgments, which we consider to be correct. There are two main requirements to check: validity of judgments and consistency of conclusions made based on these judgments.

 

2. Have doubts

Forming the world view, we collect facts and are conducting surveillance, which allows obtaining relevant knowledge. One might be caught in a trap if we take facts for the truth. Don’t substitute facts in the process of reasoning. Don’t look for examples that suit the conclusion. It is irrational. Make conclusions based on examples. Therefore, it is important to doubt any incoming information even if it comes from the reliable source. 

 

3. Check facts

Avoid selective reasoning. It is impossible to get true knowledge, selecting only those facts that confirm your assumptions.

Be objective.

Use all tools available. If necessary, verify the facts by referring directly to the source, since your existing data can only be someone's interpretation.

 

4. Make decisions carefully

Formulate the problem in different ways. It will help you to see a problem from the different angles.

Consider even risky and improbable scenarios and negative aspects so to take them into account in case things go wrong.

 

5. Structure tasks

The process of solving the problem is to pass 4 stages: formulation the problem, generating solutions, decision-making, the assessment of its effectiveness. 

 

6. Be creative

Creativity will teach to think our of the box and to generate more ideas to solve the problem.