A regular day has started, the alarm clock offensively rings and you know… you just have to get up. As you open your room’s curtains, a terrible awareness strikes your mind. The outside is cloudy. Not white fluffy clouds (as Enigma used to sing) but heavy, thick dark clouds. Their appearance is that of cumbersome lead masses that menace to make you uncomfortably damp in a wink. So, with such observation in mind, you figure not only your unwillingness to get wet, but that you may achieve such result just by bringing an umbrella with you. The day passes by and not even a drop has fallen… It comes to your mind that reality has disconfirmed your well thought conduct. How could that have happened? You observed the weather outside. You faced reality with your experience and made a sound assumption… Ooooh that is what it was, an assumption!
This way of thinking may be called an euristic. An autonomous pattern of thinking and judging reality that has us rapidly jump to conclusions. It is very helpful in everyday tasks and simple problems in which the consequences of a bad judgement are outweighed by the positive result of getting it right, for once.
Just like our umbrella that has uselessly encumbered our day… but the annoyance of such instrument around our arm is definitely better than the possibility of getting soaked to the bones!
There are fields in which such way of thinking may be dangerous and that is in the filed of complex problems. Situations where our subjective judgement and experience are not enough to explore the vastity of the challenge.
This is the case in which you should apply critical thinking. Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Francis Bacon, Descartes and many more, would be proud of you if you did so.
Critical thinking is a tool based on: The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement. Oxford Languages
Objectivity: Is reached with the use of factual resources that are appropriately validated. It expects an absence of bias and lack of favoritism for one concept or another.
Evaluation: A six step assessing process based on 1-Plan and collect information 2-Write objectives 3-What, how and when to measure 4-Conduct and monitor progress 5-Collect information and interpret data 6-Use results.
Judgement: The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.
This way, the tool of critical thinking, encourages the student to look for the right information, weigh its validity, form a process to assess the problem at hand and figure out sensible conclusion.
Being it a process, it can be monitored on each step, making the individual able to self-correct, thus becoming resilient to failure.
In simple words, critical thinking is the best way to release students from the need of a teacher developing autonomous and effective thinking abilities. Yes, it sounds scary… what will teacher do then?
They will be proud to have given society men and women well aware of their choices and complex conclusions. Able to face the upcoming difficulties of food security, environmental change and energy shortage! All while living a content life loyal to their well-constructed truths and values.
Giuseppe Perrotti – JUMP Trainer