Critical thinking is the process of perceiving things which are being observed and seen. It is how you look at the things around you and how you interpret them. It’s also about giving arguments on them, inferring things and in the end concluding what you have observed.
According to Fisher & Scriven, critical thinking is “Skilled, active, interpretation and evaluation of observations, communications, information, and argumentation. ” Parker & Moore define it in a little less wider way that it is a careful and intentional decision, whether refusing the argument or accepting it.
Critical thinking is not only deciding or reaching at the conclusion but it is a long process of thinking rationally. We must have few evidences to think upon; the matter should be logical and solid enough which is being judged, the process and criteria of thinking on the subject should be well organized and should start after a long process of observation and the most important thing is that the nature of the problem should be understood and the upcoming or expected problems, hurdles or questions should be in mind before hand so that one should be prepared for all the grounds.
Not only through logic and rational thinking but intellect of the person plays an important part in this matter. Here the criteria of intellect includes accuracy, integrity, exactitude, fidelity, germaneness, profundity, pitch, latitude, diameter, broadness, connotation, drift, force, charity, civility, fair-mindedness and justice. There are lot other things to define this single word; “intellect”. I have tried my level best to define “critical thinking” from several different angles.
In 1941, Edward Glaser gave us the following points in a lecture on “critical thinking”: “An attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one’s experiences; knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning; some skill in applying those methods. ” Critical thinking is required whenever we are in a situation to take some decision. Judging the situation, solving the situation and then finally taking the decision are the core and the essence of critical thinking in any matter.
One has to find out what to go for, what to trust and what not to trust, and doing this in an acceptable way is the requirement of valid critical thinking. Not only taking decisions but reading, writing, speaking and listening are also done uncritically and critically and in my opinion they should be taken as a basic source of thinking critically. Defining critical thinking in a broader and wider spectrum, it is “a way of taking up the problems of life” (Sumner criticalthinking. org).
And I would like to add up that it is a way of taking up the life philosophically; using your mind, your observation, past experiences and experiences of others. Critical thinking is really necessary because it makes one to think rationally; it makes one to see both the positive and negative aspects of the things, and it enhances the power of acceptance in a person. It also makes a person to evaluate things from all the possible angles and it also makes a person to reconstruct his thinking schemas.
Critical thinking is also the process of excluding few things from one’s thinking such as being biased, having prejudice or invalid and illogical schemas, misconceptions, disinformation, self-deception. A new trend of teaching “how to think critically” is also introduced in few schools which show the need, demand and requirement of thinking critically. Above, I have discussed how critical thinking is important in daily life. Now I am coming to the point that how is critical thinking important in academics and professional life. While choosing a career i. e.
pursuing a graduate degree, one must keep two things in mind. First of all is one’s interest which means the person should know what interest him or her the most. Second of all is the Potential. One should check whether he is really good in what interests him. For example, if working on computer interests me and I enjoy spending time about knowing computers; but I am weak in programming, hardware or software. Now this would really doesn’t work as both the things should work side by side. Or in the other case, the vice versa, i. e. I am good in programming but I don’t enjoy it.
Now one has to think critically that whether one is good in his interest or not. In the above example or in other such examples, self-assessment is very important. Before choosing a career one should assess oneself that in what things he is capable to compete and in what things he is not. “Systematic evaluation of arguments based on explicit rational criteria is as old as recorded history. Terminology changes, emphases emerge, and worthwhile disputes about the criteria for rational conversation break out. But the habit of questioning the quality of the reasoning for a belief or contention is implicit in our daily living.
” (Browne 2006) To think critically is a mental exercise and a mental activity. “The more you think, the more your brain works” is what I personally believe. The quality of our thinking affects the quality of the way we lead our live. By commanding intellectual scenarios on oneself, one can improve one’s quality of life as well as quality of thinking. One has to consider many things while working on a problem, the physical and mental aspects, the emotional and cognitive, the physiological and as well as the psychological ones.
These all mentioned aspects collectively make a person think critically. Critical thinking is biased free thinking. It is one step further then to think! I would like to explain the said line. There is a difference between to “think” and to “think critically”. To think means to try to solve one’s problem and to think critically means looking at the problem with different angels, perspectives and predicting its different possible outcomes with the solutions in one’s mind.
One might have an impression that to think critically is a difficult intellectual task that everyone can’t really implement or practice. But it’s not the fact. We all do critical thinking sometimes. Now it’s solely on one’s observation that how much he acquires and learns from his environment and how much he puts his effort in improving his quality thinking and so quality of life. Critical thinking also makes us accept and realize what we don’t know before. It makes us honest with ourselves in a sense that we become broad minded and open minded.
Critical thinking also makes us to realize our mistakes and then ultimately we don’t feel any guilt or hesitation in saying that we were wrong in that. Actually, in unconscious, the attitude of being a critical thinker makes a person more confident about his views and plus makes a person learn quickly and effectively. Critical thinking also makes us to think with the perspectives of different people. And this is the main reason why a critical thinker becomes broad minded and views the world and things with different perspectives and angels.
Critical thinking also let a person be a good listener. He can also take criticisms quite well and polishes his personality through this. It also helps a person increase his patience to hear bad comments about himself. Hence, in our lives, our decisions not only affect us but also the people around us and the things around us. To think critically is a God gifted thing BUT no doubt it is learned as well. One learns from the environment, from the people around oneself and from his past experiences.
One should also try to observe people’s way of looking and perceiving things which is really important in developing one’s quality way of thinking critically! References Browne, Neil; Stuart Keeley. (2006). Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, Pearson Fisher, A. and M. Scriven. (1997). Critical Thinking: Its Definition and Assessment. Point Reyes (CA): Edgepress. Glaser, Edward M. (1941). An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking, Teacher’s College, Columbia University Sumner, William Graham, (1906). Folkways. Available at: http://www. criticalthinking. org/