Critical Thinking Essay, Research Paper
The concepts of critical thinking and creative thinking are both gaining increasing importance in the world today. Critical thinking allows people to understand difficult concepts in a manner that is clearer and more defined. They can more readily understand those concepts if they employ critical thinking. In all portions of everyday life, a person is expected to make independent judgments. Those judgments are based on experience and knowledge. Without the ability to think critically, every situation that a person comes across would have to be considered in isolation from all other situations. When a person encounters a problem that is a new one, he or she may be able to use critical thinking to solve those problems.
One manner in which a person can develop critical thinking skills is through using them in all situations. By doing this, a person can discern when to use certain skills. One way of using critical thinking is to review material and analyze that material. There are many times when critical thinking is an important concept. It is important in the classroom. It is important in the boardroom. It is important for not only the student, but also the CEO. The mother or the teacher can apply critical thinking. Doctors employ critical thinking, as do nurses. Everyone employs critical thinking at one time or another whether or not this is even realized. This critical thinking needs to be channeled as well as focused.
While critical thinking is important in all occupations, it must begin in childhood. Teachers must help their students to develop critical thinking modalities. Critical thinking helps considerably in problem solving. Without critical thinking, one must rely on old and outdated information. All businesses, from the simplest to the most technologically advanced, need critical thinkers. Critical thinking also helps in decision-making. Both problem solving and decision-making abilities are vital to a prosperous business.
Persons who are critical thinkers can make a difference in the companies in which they are employed. Today’s corporations must first recognize that there is a real need for critical thinkers. It is important for both the top management down the line. Critical thinking must be taught and built in to the way the company or organization performs its business. In fact, companies and organizations must embrace the concept of critical thinking. Critical thinking can lead to success story after success story. This type of impact gives any company or organization credibility.
According to Supon, one of the fundamental purposes of teaching critical thinking is to enhance the abilities of students to become critical thinkers. Corporate leaders, educational researchers, employers, and parents have continually pushed teachers to assist their students in the development of critical thinking ability. Critical thinking is a skill that “involved not only knowledge of content by also concept formation and analysis, reasoning and drawing conclusions, recognizing and avoiding contradiction, and other essential cognitive activities” (Supon, 1998).
There are proposed reasons for the emphasis that is currently on critical thinking. Many factors can be related to this emphasis. They include the societal factors of economic shifts globally, the dissemination of massive amounts of information, and occupational mobility (Supon, 1998).
Unfortunately, educators face barriers that are numerous when they make an attempt at creating thinking classrooms. Those barriers include, “insecurities about their own abilities to think critically, fear on the part of students that they will be ridiculed by their peers when they share experiences, and teachers’ own attachment to the lecture method.” Supon notices that there are numerous ways in which to overcome those barriers (Supon, 1998).
A change in the teacher’s attitude toward teaching critical thinking must be achieved. According to Kirby and Goodpaster, “There is no Holy Grail of facilitating critical thinking and no one way to instructional enlightenment.” When a teacher makes a commitment to allowing students employ in learning that is both meaningful and enthusiastic, he is contributing to efforts of critical thinking. The teacher must hone his skills by attending seminars and staff meetings, and reading educational journals concerning the ways to teach thinking. The pattern of routine thinking must be broken by alternative teaching methods that will serve to develop critical thinking. The teacher must be able to think critically in order to be able to teach the student to teach critically (Moore and Parker, 2000).
When the attitudes and methods of educators assist their students in the so-called “practical wisdom” that is necessary for the student in order to engage in learning, critical thinking occurs. (Moore and Parker, 2000).
When students recognize that there is a relationship between their own immediate concerns and a certain instructional theory, higher standards of thinking become developed. Critical thinking is part of higher thinking (Kirby and Goodpaster, 1999).
Student’s experiences can become legitimized through critical thinking. They are able to see that their experiences and their ideas are relevant. Working together as a group can achieve this goal. Class discussions are important to this concept. For this to work, however, the teacher must create an atmosphere that is non-judgmental in order for critical thinking to become fostered. “When teachers deliberately integrate the selected content, while embracing and combining students’ ideas and experiences, critical thinking capacities are being conditioned” (Moore and Parker, 2000). By the deliberate incorporation of such elements into their teaching modalities, educators encourage students in an awareness of their own behaviors, ideals, and values, which is both important and crucial to critical thinking (Kirby and Goodpaster, 1999).
Teachers must create trust in their classrooms in order to legitimize the experiences of students. Mutual respect appears to be the straightest route to trust. An educator may develop trust by demonstrating respect toward his students. In this way, he can proceed to developing critical thinking once trust has been established. Students who trust their teachers will be more open to the sharing of their experiences. Peer ridicule and fear become broken with trust. The students are able to recognize the fact that their ideas and their experiences have worth and are valid (Supon, 1998).
Students are able to build knowledge bases though the visualization of important facts and concepts. This means “creating mental pictures to aid in learning, thinking, and solving” (Supon, 1998). Problem solving is an important concept in critical thinking. When a student’s concepts are visual and organized, he is able to sharpen the ability to communicate that information and those ideas. Not only is this important in learning critical thinking, it is also able to garner enthusiasm and interest from the student (Supon, 1998).
Without critical thinking the purpose of the educational system would be amiss. Teachers would be doing a disservice to their students. Students would not be fulfilling their potentials. Businesses would soon flop. Neither a doctor nor a nurse would be ale to do his/her job. A company’s CEO would be out of business. A student would not be able to write a research paper. The list goes on and on.
Critical thinking is of crucial importance. It must be taught and it must be learned. Without paying attention to this manner of thought, great losses would occur. Critical thinking is an element that everyone in all walks of life needs in order to communicate successfully and to understand vital concepts, make decisions, and solve problems.
Kirby, Gary R. and Jeffery R. Goodpaster. Thinking. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1999
Moore, Brooke Noel and Richard Parker. Critical Thinking. Mountain View: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2000
Supon, Viola. “Penetrating the barriers to teaching higher thinking.” The Clearing House. 1998, May 15