How Develop the Ability of Critical Thinking
Critical thinking not only involves practice and mental discipline, it allows a reader to form a judgment from analyzing facts. But this does not mean that only a few can learn the ability to think critically. In critical thinking reflection essay we will understand how develop the ability of critical thinking.
The first step is to find a system or a method that can help in developing this particular skill, especially when it comes to analyzing a book, article or website. The two methods in question are “elements of thought”, and “asking the right questions”. There are a lot of similarities and differences as well, but neither is better than the other. When used together, these two methods will allow for readers to develop the ability to think critically.
An example of a similarity would be from Asking the Right Questions the first two questions:
- What are the issues and conclusions?
- What are the reasons?
Are similar to Elements of Thought’s first two questions:
- What is the author’s purpose
- What is the author’s point of view?
The similarity lies in the objective of the questions and the type of answer that these can generate. These types of questions will reveal the purpose of writing an article or book and at the same time clarifies the main idea that the author wanted to communicate to the readers. These questions also seek to find out the author’s mindset and why he/she made those statements. These two methods deliver a good way to begin the analysis of a written document. The two methods also are similar in how both tried to expose the assumptions made by the author which is a good way to find out where the article is heading and how the author tried to develop his/her ideas based on an assumption that has to be accepted as true in order to proceed. There is also a similarity when it comes to identifying the evidence presented by the author.
There are also differences when comparing the two methods. The first one can create more detailed answers but the second method can yield generalizations and subjective answers. For example, the second method simply asks the question: “What evidence is provided?”. On the other hand, the first method does not only ask about the evidence but even provides a follow-up question: “How good is the evidence?” as well as “Are the statistics deceptive?”. Another major variance is the way the second method ends the critical thinking process. It asks a simple question: “What are the conclusions?”. This question is not the most crucial when it comes to the end part of the analysis process. In fact, the first method places this question in the very start of the whole thinking exercise because the main goal of critical thinking is not to repeat what the author has stated but to figure out the truth.
There is no question that the second method supports the reader to think because it provides a guide in the form of questions; however, it can only lead the reader up to a certain point and the best thing that it can hope to achieve is to petition opinions from them and not help them think through the problem. The first method is more effective because it does not implore opinion from the readers but helps them grow a critical thinking mindset such as not to believe everything that they read but to figure out if the statements of the author was based on fallacy, hearsay, unverified assumptions or truth. The first method is the better guide and one can see this from the very beginning of the process when it comes to the question regarding issues and conclusions. It immediately sets the tone and does not beat around the bush heading straight to the point to determine what the author is attempting to communicate and how he/she uses information to convince or enlighten. There is urgency in the questions that demands clear answer and this will help separate assumptions, lies, propaganda, ulterior motive, etc. The second method on the other hand reverts by asking questions that can be answered in different ways therefore the process does not actually teach readers how to think critically but to express how they perceive the article and what they believe is the effect on the person who will read the article or book. This can be seen in the question: “What are the implications?” This puts pressure on the readers the wrong way because it does not help them examine the information found in the article but forces them to judge what the author was saying based on their own knowledge and expertise regarding the topic. The first method steers clear from this trap by guiding readers step by step until they are able to identify fallacies in reasoning; if deceptive statistics were used; and if important information was omitted. Thus, the reader is warned if the author is trying to manipulate evidence to simply persuade people to rally to his/her cause or side with an issue.
To conclude, adopting one approach to critical thinking is always going to be problematic, as it is always important to remain flexible and not be rigid when trying to analyze a particular issue. The elements of thought and the right questions play a vital role in critical thinking. Each has its own significant role and they complement each other. They do have similarities, but are more different than similar. The right questions appear to be much more focused and specific and clear than the elements of thought, which appear to be stated more vaguely. Elements of thought are general principles of thinking whereas the right questions are very particular questions. Both lists focus on delving deeper into the content to find the facts. Often, we take things at face value, and don't consider motives or possible deceptions. Using either list would be useful in order to tackle a controversial issue and make a decision.