Higher-order thinking is a virtue that enables innovation and growth. As we today evolve through these unprecedented times, it is inevitable and quintessential to relook at our approach to teaching methodology. Today, more than ever, children need to undergo the change in pedagogy to think ‘how to think’ and learn ‘how to learn’, rather than cramming the academic subjects to score marks. Critical and creative thinking are two important factors that have become more important now as the STEAM methodology finds its way into our education system. In other words, we need to learn how to think critically to get a holistic understanding of the world around us.
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking — about any subject, content or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of thoughts by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing them. It is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored and self-corrective thinking for effective communication and problem-solving abilities. It is a much-needed life skill for future generations to thrive in these fast and dynamically changing macro conditions.
The top 6 time tested benefits of critical thinking in the year 2021:
- A timeless and universal life skill: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk – all have one thing in common. They all are great critical thinkers in their respective eras. Some of the best solutions to humanity’s problems have emerged through such practitioners. The critical and logical thinking tradition seeks ways of understanding the mind; then training the intellect for minimizing the “errors”, “blunders” and “distortions” in order to gain mastery to apply this skill independent of the domain. It means that no matter what path or profession our children would pursue, these skills will always be relevant and beneficial for their success.
- Laying the foundation of a scientific and liberal democratic society: Science requires the critical use of reason in experimentation and theory confirmation. The proper functioning of a liberal democracy requires citizens who can think critically about social issues to make informed judgments about proper governance or any other matter of importance to overcome biases and prejudice. As critical thinkers, our children would be able to learn from our experiences and surroundings, while at the same time have the ability to evolve their preconceived notions and inferences.
- Foster better relationships and healthier social environments: From an individual perspective, the quality of a person’s thoughts, impacts the quality of decisions and life. Families and societal ecosystems which practice critical thinking create an atmosphere of psychological safety where children feel safe to acknowledge mistakes, reassess conclusions, and explore differences of opinions with respect. When children are exposed to the process of questioning, discussing, debating, and consequently improving over time, it not only uplifts their relationship with society but also facilitates their holistic growth.
- Promotes curiosity: Curiosity exists to help us gain a deeper understanding of not only the world surrounding us but the things that matter within our experience of that world. This extends to the topics that children are taught in schools and also the ones that they observe in their daily lives. Effective critical thinking helps them to learn a wide range of topics, build broad interest areas, and retain inquisitiveness. They share understanding and appreciation of different cultures, beliefs, and views spanning across different facets of humanity. This is also a part that makes them lifelong learners.
- Helps differentiate between what’s real and what’s fake: While nowadays there is easy access to information, thinking critically helps in asking the right questions, examining the facts and exploring the roots of the core argument to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. The combined implementation of critical and logical thinking has always helped children and adults alike at the art of deducing inferences and building on their past life experiences.
- Fosters creative thinking and innovation: What happens when a person deploys reason and logical thinking to various situations and challenges? The person moves towards identifying the root cause of seemingly difficult problems. By coupling critical thinking processes with other meta-creative thinking skills like first principle thinking and design thinking approach, creative solutions emerge for the identified problems and challenges. In fact, reasoning & logical thinking are the key pillars of critical and creative problem-solving.
To summarize, critical thinking is a time-tested skill that supports the holistic growth of our children and promotes curiosity, which helps solve problems in every aspect of life, be it career, social or personal life. It prepares individuals to be independent in case of adversities or any form of the challenges life has in store for them. As the world is evolving, it is quintessential we carve the growth of our children in a manner that makes them independent thinkers, gives them the ability to think on their feet, and prepares them for the dynamic yet unprecedented nature of the coming future.