Learn to Develop your Critical Thinking
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Today we want to share with you a special post:
How Critical Thinking Develops - 5 Strategies
You may remember critical thinking as something you were tested on when you were in school or something you were told certain people are naturally better at doing.
The problem is not only that logic and critical thinking are often not described. They also tend to sound dry, monotonous, or of little practical relevance.
In fact, critical thinking skills are learned and improved over time, helping you make better decisions, process information more efficiently, and express yourself more clearly.
By honing your critical thinking skills, you'll boost yourself in both your personal and professional life.
So what is critical thinking, precisely? And how can you become a better critical thinker starting today? This simple guide will give you a great starting point as it breaks down the definition of critical thinking and discusses five ways to improve it.
What is critical thinking?
In the simplest terms, critical thinking is about carefully analyzing, processing, and making sense of information.
Although it is often taught as part of a philosophy course (and has its roots in the work of Plato and Aristotle), critical thinking skills can be usefully applied to any problem, topic, issue, or concept.
It's about closely monitoring your own thoughts, paying attention to where they come from and how they follow each other, and that requires a degree of open-mindedness.
In particular, good critical thinkers do their best to be neutral about their own thinking, identifying biases and biases and then correcting them (we'll look at biases in more depth later).
5 strategies to improve your critical thinking
If you want to be a good critical thinker, remember that it takes practice. Imagine it as something similar to physical training! There are certain muscles that you need to develop over time.
The following five exercises will help you with the critical thinking process. It's all about making simple but powerful changes to your cognition and tracking them over time.
In addition to using these techniques, remember that any kind of new learning is just as helpful for critical thinking. Every time you read something new, take a class or tackle a challenging book, you become an increasingly intelligent thinker.
Ask basic questions
It is tempting to imagine that good critical thinkers ask learned and difficult questions when trying to solve a problem. However, the truth is actually the opposite. The better your critical thinking, the more fundamental and clear your questions will be.
To improve your problem-solving questions (and thus improve your critical thinking skills), be sure to break up your questions.
Suppose you're faced with a new problem, at work or in life, and you're not sure what to do. Start by asking the following:
- What information about this problem do you already have?
- How do you know the above information?
- What is your goal, and what are you trying to discover, prove, disprove, support, or criticize?
- What can you be missing?
These types of questions encourage you to get right to the heart of a problem, interrogating it for simple solutions before taking on the complexity.
Be aware of your thought process
People who assume they are good critical thinkers often sidetrack their analytical skills by arrogantly criticizing other people. However, being a truly skilled thinker involves much more self-reflection.
In particular, you want to observe your own thought process; where it started, what it looks like, and where it is going.
Our brains use heuristics, like cognitive shortcuts, to make quick inferences about what's going on around us.
In many cases, these heuristics produce reliable results and help us move forward in the world. In other cases, they take the form of unreliable biases that lead us down the wrong path.
No matter how smart and thoughtful you are, if you want to be a good critical thinker, you must accept that you have these biases and you must learn to manage them.
Get in the habit of asking yourself what you're assuming and why, and check things like unhelpful stereotypes.
Becoming more aware of your own biases is the first step in rewriting these parts of your thinking.
Adjust your perspective
As noted above, being more aware of your own biases is a boon for critical thinking. However, it is only the first step towards a gradual change in perspective.
One helpful thing you can do is read the literature on biases and how they work.
Plus, there are all kinds of interesting studies on how situational factors influence our seemingly basic character traits.
For example, we make different decisions based on things like hunger, the color of a room, whether we have to go up a flight of stairs, etc.
Just reading about these biases and heuristics can help you sharpen your perspective. Another thing you can do to help is to deliberately expose your mind to other ways of thinking. Instead of sticking to your favorite news sources, read a little more widely.
Thinking backward is another fascinating and effective technique, especially when you are trying to solve a difficult problem.
The basic idea is to turn what you think you know upside down. So if you think it's pretty obvious that A causes B, ask yourself "What if B caused A?" This is the structure of the famous case of the chicken and the egg.
Initially, he thinks that he is sure that the chicken is the first to arrive because the egg must be laid by the chicken. However, once he considers that the chicken itself must have originated somewhere, it's not so clear.
Thinking backward will not always give you an immediate solution to a problem. However, this prevents him from perceiving the problem in the same way, which is often all he needs to get on the path to success.
While you won't become psychic, you can develop your foresight abilities, thus improving your critical thinking more broadly.
The best way to do this is to make sure you take the time to look at all angles of a potential decision.
To lead by example when looking for a place to locate your new business, don't go by intuition.
Ask yourself questions like the following: What impression does this location leave on visitors? How many competitors are there in the area? Will it be easy for employees to get here?
Making a list of pros and cons is another great way to improve your prediction, making you much better at predicting results.
And the more you do this, the less work you'll have to put into your prediction attempts each time.
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