Tips on Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Students

4 Mins read

Сritical thinking throughout the history of mankind has been the privilege of the elites. Philosophy, rhetoric and theology, dialectics, and sophisms — all this is a kind of intellectual “entertainment” is not for everyone. Not everyone was allowed to think critically, reason freely, and be guided exclusively by logic. Sometimes it was dangerous to think at all — they could easily burn them at stake, burn them as witches or lock them up in prison as the evilest warlock. In general, it was always much simpler and, most importantly, safer not to be a “black sheep”, to be like everyone else, to be guided by social habits, dogmas, traditions, and stereotypes. Has the world changed?

New Reality Where Critical Thinking is Critical

Has something changed since then? Sure! This is confirmed by studies conducted by the World Economic Forum. Davos experts have determined which skills will be relevant and relevant in the very near future, namely in 2020. Among them were: solving complex problems, critical thinking, creativity, managing people, communication, emotional intelligence, decision making, customer focus, negotiating, cognitive flexibility. As it is pointed out by one of the leading expert writers from SmartWritingService – essay service“Critical thinking and ability to focus are the major factors to succeed with complex written assignments.”

There is also the concept of “4 Cs”. A 21st Century Skills Partnership was created in America in 2002, which included representatives from the US Department of Education, the National Education Association NEA, other government and non-profit organizations, and several companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, and Dell. The organization analyzed and identified four key skills necessary for learning, primarily in the 21st century. These turned out to be Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration (teamwork). 

How Reading Helps Develop Critical Thinking

To develop critical thinking, you have to deal with constant analysis of everything. There is a pattern to follow:

  • Ask yourself — what is the purpose of this text, which audience it addresses, which ideas it promotes;
  • If there is a problem described in the text, check whether the problem is analyzed from several angles;
  • What is the author’s point of view on the problem;
  • Which arguments are used by the author to defend his point of view? Do they relate to the formulated problem directly or only indirectly;
  • Analyze the reasoning given by the author: does each given fact prove or offers to take it for granted: “Everyone knows that …” As a rule, it is precisely these generalizations that contain inaccurate information designed to manipulate the reader and form his distorted attitude to the problem.
  • When analyzing the text, be sure to formulate your own attitude to the problem, built on facts, arguments, and logical reasoning.

How Beating the Fear Is Important for Critical Thinking

Often, fear of “higher powers” of a different order interferes with a critical assessment of the situation:

  • in religious societies there is a fear of a critical attitude to the “divine providence,” and, therefore, to the events that have occurred and their behavior in them;
  • in totalitarian states, citizens are afraid to even think that members of the government may be wrong;
  • in countries with an eastern system of government (Japan, South Korea), subordinates are afraid to criticize the authorities, their orders, and their actions in their light.

It is important to beat fears of social exclusion in order to develop critical thinking successfully. Of course, not all of these fears can be related to the students in our country, but still, the meaning of fear in terms of critical thinking should be discussed.

Moving Forward Developed Critical Thinking

The best way to accustom yourself to critical thinking is to adhere to a simple scheme: solving a problem consists of five stages – preparation, getting to know the problem, developing solutions, choosing the final solution, and evaluating the result of choice. This scheme is familiar to everyone who graduated or was engaged in research because it is the norm for writing term papers, dissertations, dissertations, and other similar documents. A structured plan allows you to gradually and deliberately resolve any complex issue.

Check facts and recognize fakes. It is not necessary to perceive any incoming information as the only true information until you have independently investigated this issue. To verify the facts, it is better to seek confirmation of the information from several independent sources. And fakes need to mean not only pseudo-news but also typos and technical errors (for example, incorrect spelling of names or posts in the media).

Use a deductive method of thinking (a way of reasoning from general to particular). Try not to draw conclusions under the influence of emotions and situations, and also in no case to reason based on the division of people into “friends” and “strangers.”

Ask the right questions. It would seem that this is complicated because everyone knows how to ask questions. But the thing is quality. The nature of the information received depends on the question. It is important to learn to ask open questions instead of closed ones (which suggest a monosyllabic answer). It is better to ask, “What do you think of the introduction of the new law?” Then “Do you also think that the new law is terrible?”

Doubt. This does not mean constantly rejecting other people’s ideas and conclusions just because they do not like them. This means a skeptical approach to the question and healthy doubt about any information received.

Make informed decisions. To do so, it is necessary to formulate the problem in different ways, as well as to consider even the most incredible and risky outcomes. You can even try to compose peculiar lists for making decisions: write down possible solutions with arguments “for” and “against” and choose the most suitable.

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