Critical thinking is one of the key skills of the 21st century. It allows you to analyze information, draw conclusions and make decisions based on the analysis, as well as form your own opinion and defend your position.
Right now, information surrounds us and it comes from many sources. It needs to be rethought and verified for accuracy. Thanks to critical thinking, we see inconsistencies and contradictions, we can filter out inaccurate data and separate facts from their interpretation.
How to develop critical thinking
Learn a lot
It is impossible to think critically without enough knowledge about the world around us. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to compare and analyze. In other words, before critically assessing a problem, it is necessary to consider it from all angles.
Constantly update your knowledge in various fields:
- read fiction and non-fiction;
- watch documentaries and lectures on the Internet, for example from the public domain on educational portals, Youtube channels of specialists in various fields;
- observe people and their behavior — this will help you understand the reason for their actions and develop a strategy for interaction in different situations;
- have a conversation with people, learn their opinion and experience. This will allow you to develop or clarify your position on any issue.
Learn to ask questions
It is necessary to correctly formulate questions. Practice asking questions on a variety of topics. For example, set yourself the task of coming up with fifty questions about your favorite movie, book, picture, phenomenon or event of the surrounding world, subject or specific topic of the school curriculum. Most importantly, when studying any question, be interested in all aspects, consider the problem from different angles and clarify details by asking questions.
Read and analyze texts
Critical thinking develops through continuous analysis of information from books and from the Internet. Parse each text you read according to a specific pattern:
- for what purpose is this text written, to what audience does the author appeal, what idea does he want to convey.
- what problem is described in the text, is there a single way to solve it, or are there different options.
- the author’s point of view on the issue.
- what arguments does the author give in defense of their point of view?
- how the author builds his reasoning: does each given fact is proven or is it offering to take it for granted: “Everyone knows that…” These generalizations intended to manipulate the reader and create their biased attitude to the problem.
- where the facts are given in the text, and where is their interpretation. Practice separating one from the other by reading articles on the Internet about current events.
- does the text have any hidden meaning, subtext, and if so, how does it change the general meaning of the text.
- when examining the text, convey your own attitude to the problem, based on facts, arguments and logical reasoning.
Refer to alternative sources of information
Critical thinking involves getting to know different, sometimes opposing, opinions about a problem. When studying a question, refer to different sources, compare the information received, evaluate it for consistency, completeness, reliability, and identify inconsistencies. Reliable information comes from verified official sources and confirmed by facts. Don’t forget to look for a link to the source.
Come up with options
To think critically means to see different options for the development of the situation depending on various factors and to be able to isolate from these options the most optimal, convenient and effective one.
Learn to foretell the consequences of your actions in any life situation. When making a decision, write down on paper all the scenarios that may follow, analyze each of them, and think about how you can minimize the risk of failure or possible negative consequences.
Think up difficult situations and make a list of possible solutions to problems.
Analyze the actions of the heroes of books or films that affect the development of the plot. Come up with alternative scenarios that change the character’s life for better or worse.
They say the one who does nothing is not mistaken. A mistake is not a reason for self-abasement, but a way to figure out what to do next time. Construct a constructive approach to the analysis of each error: find it, evaluate the reasons that led to it, come up with options for how to fix it.