Critical thinking is when you question, analyse, interpret, evaluate and make a judgement about what you read, hear, say, or write. The term critical comes from the Greek word kritikos meaning “able to judge or discern”. Good critical thinking is about making reliable judgements based on reliable information. Applying critical thinking does not mean being negative or focusing on faults. It means being able to clarify your thinking so that you can break down a problem or a piece of information, interpret it and use that interpretation to arrive at an informed decision or judgement (for example designing a bridge, responding to an opinion piece or understanding a political motivation).
People who apply critical thinking consistently are said to have a critical thinking mindset, but no one is born this way. These are attributes which are learnt and improved through practice and application.
In order to sharpen your critical thinking skills, you need to work on the following steps:
- clarify your thinking purpose and context
- question your sources of information
- identify arguments
- analyse sources and arguments
- evaluate the arguments of others and
- create or synthesise your own arguments.
Finally, critical thinking skills are important in every discipline, at and beyond school. From managing money to choosing which candidates to vote for in elections to making difficult career choices, students need to be prepared to take in, synthesize, and act on new information in a world that is constantly changing.
Author: Catherine Perri – JUMP Trainer