July 27, 2013

What I've learned about Critical Thinking so Far...

On the road to becoming a more effective critical thinker there are many barriers. To overcome these barriers there are certain traits that we need to emulate in order to become good critical thinkers. In this post I will attempt to address those barriers and how to overcome them by taking on specific traits.

The barriers to effective critical thinking fall under resistance which is a part of the three tier model of thinking. There are three levels to thinking; Experience, Interpretation, and Analysis. In between Interpretation and Analysis lies Resistance. There are many types of Resistance, for example Avoidance; "Rather than seeking out different points of view, we may avoid certain people and situations." (Boss, 2012), AngerClich├ęs; often-repeated statements such as “Don’t force your views on me,” “It’s all relative,” “To each his own,” “Things always work out for the best,” and “I have a right to my own opinion” (Boss, 2012), Ignorance, Denial, Conformity, Struggling, Fear of Challenge, Distractions, Egocentrism (belief that oneself is more important), Absolutism, Ethnocentrism (belief that one's own culture is more important) and Anthropocentrism (belief that humans are more important) , just to name a few.

All of these negative ideologies and habits can be overcome by taking on characteristics that improve one's critical thinking. The characteristics of a good critical thinker are; Analytical Skills, Effective Communication, Research and Inquiry Skills, Flexibility and Tolerance for Ambiguity, Open-Minded Skepticism, Creative Problem Solving, Attention-Mindfulness-Curiosity, and Collaborative Learning. (Boss, 2012)

Good critical thinkers take the time analyze and provide logical support for their beliefs, they also strive to evaluate other's beliefs and arguments so as not to be taken in by faulty reasoning. Critical thinkers tend to use effective communications skills by listening, speaking and writing, this also includes research and inquiry so as to effectively garner sufficient information used to make correct analysis and logical responses to problems. Critical thinkers also leave room for doubt as there is a lot of ambiguity when it comes to certain issues e.g. there's always more than one way to solve a problem. They are openly skeptical of the things they hear, see or read. This means that they do not immediately take information to heart until proper research and analysis is performed and a logical conclusion is met. The next approach that good critical thinkers take is creative problem solving which goes hand in hand with collaborative learning. They try and come up with creative solutions for problems by working together. This requires attention, mindfulness and curiosity. To ignore these traits is to invite bias, ignorance, and false reasoning, amongst other negative feelings or beliefs that stifle critical thinking.

All in all good critical thinkers are made up of more than typical thinking processes, they are highly skilled individuals that are constantly striving for improvement of their understanding of things. Everyone is capable of becoming a good critical thinker, but it takes time, practice, patience, and the willingness to improve upon what you've already learned.

References:

Boss, J. A. B. (2012). Think: Critical thinking for everyday life, second edition. (2nd ed., p. 7-15, 20-25 ). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved from http://vizedhtmlcontent.next.ecollege.com/CurrentCourse/bos38200_c01_xvi-033.pdf

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