How to be a successful lifelong critical thinker

When I tell students I want them to engage in critical practice (critical thinking and writing) it sometimes panics them as they tell me they can’t criticise other people’s work. Critical writing isn’t the same as criticising, so in this post I’m going to look at the difference, and hopefully by the end of this article you will have a better understanding of the practice of approaching things with a critical mind, and identify some of the benefits.

The skills of critical thinking are universal, so although my starting point is education, I’m not going to focus on that in this post as they can and should be applied in all aspects of our lives.

What is Critical Thinking

To criticise is to express disapproval of someone/something, identifying and finding fault with aspects of them, their character etc. Its applied negatively. (Cambridge Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Britannica)

Thinking critically means analysing and evaluating a situation, information, a work of art, literature through analysis and evaluation, form a judgement of the merits and faults of what you’re exploring, but looking to improve or find areas for development while retaining objectivity. Critical thinking is the process of this analysis.

Critical thinking is the process of thoughtfully analyzing and evaluating information in order to draw conclusions, solve problems and make decisions. It involves examining information from a range of different angles and asking questions like “what assumptions are being made?”, “what are the potential consequences?” and “what other options are available?”. Critical thinking helps you to think more clearly and logically, and can help you make better decisions. It requires you to think beyond your own ideas and consider a variety of different perspectives. (Collins Dictionary, Edinburgh University)

How to use critical thinking

When thinking critically, you use evidence-based practice. You should be able to identify and evaluate evidence, reason logically and come to well-supported conclusions. It also involves being able to recognise when something is not true or does not follow logically, you should not take things at face value. To apply critical thinking, start by gathering any relevant information that may be useful in making the decision or solving the problem. Then evaluate each piece of information objectively, without making the decision or solving the problem. Then evaluate each piece of information objectively, without any personal bias or preconceived ideas. After that, organise the information into a logical structure and consider all potential solutions before making a decision, including the ones you are likely to quickly dismiss.

The benefits of critical thinking

There are many benefits to using critical thinking:

  • It helps you become a better problem solver as it allows you to find solutions quickly and efficiently
  • It encourages creatively as it encourages you to think outside the box and consider new ideas and solutions
  • It helps you increase your knowledge and understanding as it encourages you to gain a deeper understanding of the topic at hand
  • It gives you more confidence in the decisions you make

Critical thinking is an essential skill for anyone in the modern world. It can help you make better decisions, form stronger arguments, and gain a deeper understanding of the world around you. With practice and dedication, you will develop your critical thinking skills and use them to make your life better.

This post is the latest in the Critical Practice series which you can access via the link provided.

Critical Practice Course

I’d love for you to subscribe to my blog and receive notification of future posts. Click on the link below to sign up.


  1. Perfect explanation. Evidence based practice was my whole consideration in nursing interventions. Policy, found on the intranet, could well be outdated. You can’t keep a system up to date, in logical reality, when there are thousands of policies to keep up with. The review and revise input need is not hours but weeks. So it is up to an autonomous individual or a multidisciplinary team to ensure safe practice. Research rock and rolls. Keeps you on your toes. Brilliant advice here as always. All the best.

  2. I think everyone should do learn critical thinking.
    It sounds very rational and calculated.
    Often we make some judgements and then regret later. Critical thinking seems like to more about thinking before acting.

  3. Very well written article bringing home the difference between criticism and critical thinking. Agreed that mostly people confuse these two. However, this post clears all confusion.

    • Thank you Shahbaz. I’m glad it’s helped. I wasn’t planning to add the differences, but started thinking about it last might before posting. I’m glad I added it in.

  4. I completely agree with the points made in the article. Critical thinking is an essential skill for making informed decisions and solving problems effectively. By challenging our own assumptions and seeking out diverse perspectives, we can develop and improve our critical thinking skills. It’s also important to note that critical thinking should not be limited to just one aspect of our lives, but rather it should be applied in all areas for maximum benefits. Great job on highlighting the importance of critical thinking!

  5. Love how you outlined this essential and important aspect that is currently a challenge in the classroom.
    Very insightful and helpful Brenda🤍🙏

  6. Great post Brenda! I tutored middle and high schools for a few years in a district program designed to prepare them for higher ed settings. My whole role was to model critical thinking and try to get them engaged with the process and see the value in it. The majority during that time clung to simply wanting the answers and balking at the concepts. I stopped tutoring and became a day time caregiver to my grandchildren, who have been taught critical thinking skills since pre-school!

    • Thanks Deb. It is one of the challenges even at college; trying to get students to move away from simply being descriptive

  7. Such a post! Cheers to critical thinking — and reminding that it’s a skill worth cultivating. Thank you, Brenda! 😘

  8. Critical thinking is Less and less these days because people claim they lack time.
    People love one minute noodle philosophy.
    Problems should disappear as fast as they appear!
    Well researched article.
    Thank you Brenda.

  9. Nowadays, people (young people in particular) just believe what they are told is the truth of a thing besides doing their own research and reaching their own conclusion. I’m afraid we have a generation of sheep on our hands.
    Great article, and you explained it so well.

Leave a Reply