Monday, March 16, 2015

Can Critical Thinking be Taught

Critical thinking as a thinking capability is a balanced mix of genetics and learning.

We live in an extremely dynamic and over-complex world today, however, the majority of people seem not taking enough time to go through the steps needed to generate ideas and create wisdom via critical thinking; there’s information overloading, and critical thinking is more critical than ever for decision making or problems solving; but most people would rather be programmed than do their own thinking. So what're the big challenges to think critically, and can critical thinking be taught?

You think critically when you begin to focus and delineate the factors associated with the problem: all the while, never really drawing any immediate conclusions. This requires one to slow down with the way they think; as some people are prone to immediately jump to conclusions based on what they see and not necessarily based on what they know or how they perceive. This is how one's critical thinking evolves. You assess the circumstances of the problem, and then you begin to pick apart based on various factors, be they environmental, personal, or whatever.

Critical thinking as a thinking capability is a balanced mix of genetics and learning: There are those who are just naturally predisposed to be analytical thinkers based on the way they've been raised and their own personal experiences. It can also be learned by spending more time concentrating on getting to the root of the problem. Critical thinking can have the potential to be a deeply creative process well. Hence, critical thinking is situation based and individual driven. Every individual has an individual approach to a situation where the individual may either choose to apply critical thinking or strategic thinking or ignore. In terms of the professional situation too, the scenario applies. Critical thinking cannot be defined as genetically inherited only or, can absolutely be taught; It's a way thought process similar to the perceptions: all from the human brain.

Good decision making is a more "probable quality" of a critical thinker: Most decisions on problem-solving are based on ‘logic’ which is a key component of the process of critical thinking generally. "Good" means "sound" - meaning, based on valid assumptions, taking multiple perspectives into account, minimizing "agendas" or "spin," understanding the emotional component, working through the logic, reconciling differences and inconsistencies in data or sources, using a set of criteria for evaluating information and conclusions and considering unintended consequences. Above all, there needs to be a feedback loop and agility to go back and reconsider. As more information becomes known, there are times when we realize that a "good" decision may not have been the "right" decision or the "best" decision - even though it was a sound and well-intended one.

The argument is whether critical thinking can be educated in a better way: Although there’s critical thinking evaluation at advanced education level, some argue that teaching is assumption or theory that lacks the facts to be credible, an individual who is taught to think critically is ‘programmed’ and their critical thinking is in fact determined by methodologies which are ’chosen’ by educators or someone else. Which role does education really play in teaching critical thinking? Do individuals truly have free choice to think critically? And does critical thinking get encouraged or rewarded at school or workplace, or the opposite happens? What could be a better way to groom critical thinkers? How can trainers recognize the strengths and talents of those they are assisting in order to communicate concepts and disciplined approaches as clearly and lastingly as possible.

Critical thinking as an iterative process leads to a series of refinements based on learning and experience: Rather than "good" or "bad,” critical thinking is ever-improving. In the business world, at least, you can't always wait for the "best" decision to emerge. You have to make the best decision you can, based on a sound process and have the gut to admit when a mid-course correction is in order. The effective critical thinking scenario includes:  
-Knowing by observing; what is said or done, how, when, where, why it's said or done, and who said this or did that.
-Understanding through asking the right questions, and open to varying answers.
-Solution: Taking what is known and needs to be understood to come up with the right solution.
Like quite a few other things, such as leadership, creativity, etc. critical thinking is both nature and nurtured. It is a crucial thinking capability for decision-making or problem-solving.  


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