Surely we have all heard business executives, policy makers, civic leaders, and educators talking about the term “critical thinking.” But what exactly is it? Why is it considered so useful and important?
To a certain extent we all know what “critical thinking” means — it means high-quality thinking. Some might say that is the opposite of illogical or irrational thinking, but this definition still seems vague. Is critical thinking the same as analytical thinking? What about creative thinking?
Let’s explore the concept further through examples, and use our critical thinking skills together. To come up with a more concrete definition, let us answer the following questions:
1. What would happen if we did not have critical thinking?
2. When do we use critical thinking?
3. Can you think of examples of critical thinking?
4. How do we assess critical thinking?
5. Does critical thinking involve working with other people? Why or why not?
By answering these questions, our definition of critical should be becoming more tangible.
From experience, most now know that critical thinking is thinking that has a purpose (proving a point, interpreting what something means, solving a problem), and critical thinking can be a collaborative process. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to solve complex problems without definite answers in and outside the classroom.
We are bombarded with information and problems on a daily basis in our society today. We need critical thinking to help us process information and solve these problems.
If you would like to know the skills involved in critical thinking and listen to a podcast on the topic, leave “What are critical thinking skills?” in the comments. I will post another article on the topic next week if there’s enough interest.
Facione, P. A. (2011). Critical thinking: What it is and why it counts. Insight assessment, 2007(1), 1-23.
McPeck, J. E. (2016). Critical thinking and education. Routledge.