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smilingheart1's avatar

Can you explain what the term "critical thinking" means and advise tips to achieve this?

Asked by smilingheart1 (6431points) November 7th, 2011

If you were teaching a student to “think critically” what mental elements would be employed? Are there steps to learning to think critically?

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9 Answers

janbb's avatar

This is something we try to teach in the library to our students. To me, critical thinking means the ability to sift through information sources or the elements of an argument and analyze it for veracity and substance. One of the things I focus on with students is to evaluate the validity of the source, e.g., I would not use a biased Web site like that of the NRA for facts on gun safety.

marinelife's avatar

Critical thinking is analyzing the concepts that you have been shown or have learned or been told for logic, factuality and whether they make sense.

Here is the beginning of a lesson in critical thinking development:

” o Develop a statement of the topic
o List what you understand, what you’ve been told
and what opinions you hold about it
o Identify resources available for research
o Define timelines and due dates
and how they affect the development of your study
o Print the list as your reference”

Blackberry's avatar

This is an excellent video that explains it.

wundayatta's avatar

I guess in means being skeptical. You don’t accept what someone says as truth without verification.

I suspect most people do it naturally, but I suppose there are credulous people who take things that someone says as gospel without any other verification. I don’t know.

Frankly it sounds like a mysterious name for something that seems pretty ordinary to me. Academics like to do that, I’ve found. They have about ten different names that essentially mean the same thing as reading. “Content analysis.” “Qualitative data analysis.” “Narrative analysis.” Hermeneutic analysis.” Etc. All the same thing, and probably all the same a critical thinking.

Life is a puzzle. Figure it out. What does it mean? That’s what we all do all the time. But academics (and I work for them) love to take something simple and give it a fancy new name so they can write about it and pretend they invented it. Then all the credulous little grad students read about the theory and think it is sexy as hell and they run around thinking how smart they are. But it’s all just thinking. Like most people do every day.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Using your own head and not just blindly accepting as truth what other people have to say on a topic.

XD's avatar

It can be the process of understanding and applying multiple ideologies, paradigm, theories, models, etc to a problem or phenomenon. In effect, it can be a process of recognizing the outer edges of one’s own capital “T” truth—the sum of one’s knowledge and beliefs, and venturing beyond it. Maybe it is simply the process of communing with one’s Other (whatever that may be) for the sake of developing ever greater compassion and understanding.

JLeslie's avatar

I would explain it as questioning, being skeptical. Even further it is applying what we have learned previously to new situations. I think one way to learn it is to observe it. To hang around people who think criticially, learn how their mind works. Scientists probably are an easy group to seek out for this sort of thinking.

Aristotle is cited as being credited with the beginnings of logical thinking, you might want to read up on him. His work demonstrates scientific method.

Paradox25's avatar

A true critical thinker should be open minded enough to accept new ideas or concepts but be very sceptical in doing so. It should not be so important as to what stance you take on any issue but rather how you came to your conclusions or beliefs. Unfortunately many self proclaimed ‘critical thinkers’, past and present, have suffered from the Semmelweis Reflex as well.

Paradox25's avatar

@Paradox25 I forgot to add that many critical thinkers have disagreed with each other in the past and still do today. Even the ‘experts’ do not agree with each other relating to their areas of expertise on many occasions.

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