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.
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