Ways to Develop Critical Thinking and What You Should Pay Attention to

Everyone is well aware that current reality requires a new type of thinking. And this is not about linear and one-sided, but flexible, rational, critical. Without such thinking, a person will drown in a vast ocean of doubtful, unverified and unreliable information, make hasty and unreasonable conclusions and generalizations, make incorrect decisions, look at the processes and phenomena in the world superficially, distorted, stereotypically, in black and white colors.

At the moment, the question of this phenomenon is very well studied while there are many methods with regards to ways to develop critical thinking.

Basic Information

In fairness, it is worth saying that critical thinking has been the privilege of elites throughout the history of mankind. Philosophy, rhetoric and theology, dialectics and sophisms – this intellectual “entertainment” are not for everyone. Not everyone was allowed to think critically, reason freely, and be guided exclusively by logic. Sometimes it was dangerous to think at all. Thinking people could easily be burned at stake ranked as witches, or locked up in a dungeon as the evilest warlock. In general, it has always been much easier and, most importantly, safer not to be a “black sheep,” to be like everyone else, to be guided by social habits, dogmas, traditions, and stereotypes. 

In the period of awareness of new socially significant and personal goals of being, everyone and the whole society faces a difficult task:

  • to be able to analyze ongoing events;
  • to be tolerant of a different point of view;
  • to consider assumptions as hypotheses that need to be verified, and abandon those that fail this test;
  • to develop an attitude towards a critical attitude towards oneself and the world around them.

Ideas For Teachers

By the culture of critical thinking, we understand the knowledge of laws, principles of correct thinking, methods, and methods of evidence-based reasoning, which are applied in practice and contribute to the formation of self-awareness, mental development of the personality, the formation of a scientific worldview.

To assess the formation of students’ critical thinking culture in the process of learning activities and identifying quality developed on the basis of the conditions of the system were identified basic criteria:

  • abilities and skills of logical, creative thinking, knowledge of critical thinking;
  • the formation of the necessary personality traits, abilities that contribute to critical thinking;
  • the availability of skills and culture of critical thinking;
  • experience of critical thinking.

The presence of the above criteria without taking into account certain qualities of character will not be able to give a full effect but still plays a role in ways to develop critical thinking skills.

Some critical thinking experience is necessary:

  • problem-solving;
  • participation in business games;
  • development of knowledge and skills to automatism.

So there is a need for the application of acquired knowledge in everyday life.

In recent decades, much has been said about critical thinking: novelty and the need for application in various fields of human activity, including teaching foreign languages. American and British universities have even introduced critical thinking discipline. Not a single presentation of new publications by British and American publishers can do without commenting on the fact that textbooks provide information about the ways to develop critical thinking skills.

  1. Challenge. Using various types of work (individual, pair, group), students talk about what they know, i.e., transmit information to the entire group. For each student, previously acquired knowledge goes to the level of awareness, and the rest of the students receive new knowledge that can be associated with existing. This is reflected in the paragraph structure of modern textbooks of foreign languages. They always have an introductory part containing either question related to the topic of the paragraph or a proposal to discuss some information that is known to students, but always with an answer to the question.
  2. Comprehension. Receiving new information (text, lecture, film), students write obscure words and questions that arise. Then each student explains what helped him guess the meaning of a particular word or phrase, which complicated his understanding. This is an element of introspection that must be present during studying. With further processing of information at this stage, individual search and exchange of views are also mandatory.
  3. Reflection, i.e., creativity in the construction of new knowledge in accordance with individual characteristics. Students reflect on the new that they learned in the lesson, rebuild their ideas about the subject/phenomenon or supplement with new knowledge, systematize, and generalize the material.

Different Steps Related to Developing Critical Thinking Skills

First, you need to analyze the information, interpret the data, if necessary, evaluate the input. This is the most important competency that is associated with the skill of working with information. What is primary, and what is secondary? What is important, and what is not? Where is the cause, and where is the effect? How is one interconnected with the other?

 It is very difficult to deceive a person who thinks critically because he can easily detect all logical errors and any inconsistencies in reasoning. Use a simple critical question algorithm. Is the subject of discussion clear? Are there any topic substitutions or intentional switches? Is the topic narrowing or expanding? Can all arguments be called true? Are all arguments disclosed and proven? Are there any contradictions? Is there a clear causal relationship?

 Third step. It is one thing to find logical mistakes, and another thing is to explain and justify them to your opponent. The skill of reasoning and persuasive justification is the core competency of critical thinking. Convincing should not be a beautiful presentation or form, but comprehensively proven and disclosed arguments.

And finally, the main thing. A person can perfectly analyze information, in theory, find logical shortcomings in exercises in a textbook on logic, build arguments in an artificial “debate” format, but it is nothing if he cannot translate all this knowledge and skills into business practice and solve real practical cases. That is why the fourth component of critical thinking is the application of results to problem-solving.

If you combine these four key components of ways to develop critical thinking, you will get the following definition. Critical thinking is a way of thinking that allows you to analyze incoming information and cast doubt on it, formulate reasonable conclusions, create your own assessment of what is happening, and make decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Final Thinking

Critical thinking can and should be developed. This is a skill that requires constant work. Critical thinking is not about criticism. This is about how to navigate in a huge flow of information, about how to question incoming information. Everyone needs to doubt and ask questions, different and many. The more complex an idea, statement, or thought, the more questions there must be. It is important to double-check information and not be afraid to look for primary sources to compare several sources.