Scallywag

A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.

~ Author Unknown ~

Critical Thinking Or Something

May 6th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 8 secs

Is critical thinking doing your head in?

Is critical thinking doing your head in?

Critical thinking: it has been the buzz term for teachers, academics, intellectuals, and corporate high flyers for a good while now. But what exactly is it?

At higher levels of schooling students are routinely told to apply critical thinking to identify key elements of arguments, and interpret what is going within literature, data, behaviors, symptoms, numbers, and whatever else is being analyzed.

Yet, ironically, critical thinking is a pretty wishy-washy expression. Is it thinking in a logical way, a reasonable way, or, a commonsense way? Somehow, I get the feeling people who like using the term wouldn’t fully approve of any of these.

Thinking rigorously about heavy-duty topics at, say university or the boardroom also conjure up different thinking approaches to the kind of consideration needed to handle a skill, or sort out situations at home. Which makes critical thinking something of a conundrum.

Out old mate Mr. Wikipedia reckons critical thinking is “reflective reasoning about beliefs and actions” to check out whether a claim is always or sometimes true or just a load of baloney. Mr. Wik’ goes on to link such thinking to Socrates and Buddhist reasoning which sounds quite enlightening.

But it’s the reference to reflective reasoning that really captures me. Thanks to computers, smartphones, and such, our way of thinking is changing (perhaps, it forever).

The kind of approach computers and the Internet are training people into tends to feed rapid-fire decisions (after all, there’s always somewhere else to go with the help of a quick click). Then there’s that marvelous juggling act called multitasking. Neither promotes critical thinking in a reflective sense (quite the opposite).

With more screens to attend to there is no time for reflection. No room to muse on the potential what ifs and underlying whys in life. When considered thought meets a barrage of impulse triggers critical thinking doesn’t get a look in. Instead, people are learning to react to stimuli by applying rapid jabs, and trawling wherever the entertainment is best.

Contemplation, that wonderful method for working out solutions and promoting quality, is getting shoved out of existence. Daily life demands answers so our job is to find them. The preferred version of critical thinking today is answer driven rather than question provoking. Fast logic, rather than reasoned reflection, is the order of the day and it’s limiting our ability for creativity beyond the art realm.

Whatever critical thinking is, we value the considered thoughts, clear-headedness, and study. Limited “yes/no” answers, shallow assumptions, and jumping from one idea to another just don’t cut it.

But if this all too hard to consider and your brain is being boggled by all of this critical thinking fuss, remember this simple theme: good thoughts often take time and practice. Talk through your thoughts with others and dare to ask whatever you wish. While weighing the answers, remember some take a while to surface. Then, when they do, weave them into thinking “conversations”. Because good thoughts always improve when you think them through.

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