Critical Thinking

mindset Jun 17, 2020

The events in today’s society have me stepping back and evaluating this skill, yes skill! Critical thinking is a skill, it can be developed and is essential to good decision making.

Critical thinking is utilizing our higher faculties to understand and evaluate subject matter; or to put  it simply “knowing how to think.”  I look back and know then when I was in elementary and high school, I was taught what to think. Not how to think. I was subjected to a lot of information and now, the trend is to teach to pass a test. We are taught to memorize what is needed, take the test, and then forget what we remembered.  If we pursued higher education, most of us college graduates continued down the same path of learning what to think again for that anticipated test at the end of each semester. It isn’t until we pursue advanced degrees that we are then required to know how to think.

Consider this conclusion from the National Commission on Excellence in Education in its landmark report, A Nation at Risk, 1983:

“Many 17-year olds do not possess the “higher-order” intellectual skills we should expect of them.  Nearly 40 percent cannot draw inferences from written material; only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay; and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps.”

This trend in education has taught us to mind dump everything we know when sharing information. When conducting masterminds or presenting our principles and ideas to prospects, take a moment, and evaluate your approach. Are you unconsciously mind dumping everything you know in your allotted time or are you taking the time to help others develop conclusions and their own thought?

Critical thinking is a higher-order level of thinking. It is the ability to think for one’s self and responsibly makes those decisions that affect one’s life.  In addition, critical thinking is also critical inquiry: investigating problems, asking questions, and posing new challenging answers.

Consider the benefits of helping develop others’ critical thinking skills.  They will be able to better understand your ideas and better accept your methodologies if they are able to understand, evaluate, and conclude in a critical way. In addition, by developing your own critical thinking skills, you will be better equipped to share this life-changing information with your clients, co-workers, friends, and family.

Critical thinking requires advanced listening skills. Lecturing to others is a passive activity that may inhibit audience participation. To critically evaluate needs, it is necessary to present ideas and then allow the group to develop conclusions - openly discuss and debate these new ideas.  Allow the group to think deeply about your ideas and in turn, value what they think and feel. Share these ideas in an environment that allows them to think their ideas matter. Ask them to make connections and recognize patterns in the new ideas you are presenting. These techniques allow your group to begin to develop trust in themselves and their thoughts, which in turn develops their critical skills.

At the conclusion of your discussion, to further develop critical thought, ask your participants to write out the most significant thing they learned, how they will apply it, AND what single thing they would like to learn more about. This is immediate feedback about what they are learning and what they still need to understand. When presenting - encourage questions and praise the questioner with these examples: “Good question” or “I am sure others want to know that as well”. When your audience asks questions, this is a great indicator that they are thinking critically.


I ask “what if?”

What if in today’s society, more people employed this Critical Thinking Skill?

Instead of believing everything that is told to them on how to think, what would happen if we were able to step back and ask more “what if” questions.

I challenge you today to look at one area in your life where you could employ the skill of critical thinking.

What difference would it make if any?

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