Technology, travel and business have brought countries together, so does our thinking evolve. No more thinking within our boundaries, we need critical thinking to evaluate our own decisions in everything we do. For example, how do you teach students without discriminating their beliefs or religion? How do we start a business in a country with different laws from ours and still incorporate our business values? So, what is critical thinking?
What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking according to Hamilton-Reeves (2009) is the process of filtering information by removing emotional and environmental discrepancies and remaining neutral to make the most accurate decision. On the other hand Elder and Paul (1994, pp.34-35) believes critical thinking is the “ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking by developing sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing” information to make an informed decision. Lastly, critical thinking from a general psychology point of view is analyzing ones standards, facts and assessing conclusions (Petress, 2004). From the above analysis, it is apparent that critical thinking is a process that guides ones logical decision making process by analyzing all possible information before making a decision, therefore reducing the chances of making quick and unethical decisions. According to Hamilton-Reeves (2009), critical thinking improves your chances of solving difficult problems because all possible solutions are
analyzed before making a decision.
Approaches to critical Thinking
Critical thinking has a number of approaches, but only three types of
approaches will be analyzed.
- Firstly, from an education point of view, Barnett (1997) suggests critical thinking should be tackled by developing techniques that reflect critically on knowledge and development of critical self reflection. For example, teachers should encourage their students to research by asking questions that stimulate hunger for knowledge.
- Secondly, from a psychology point of view, Petress (2004) states that there is need for “examining assumptions, discern hidden values, evaluate evidence and assess conclusion”.
- Lastly, Rusbult (2004) suggests that one needs to be taught to “develop skills, abilities and values crucial to success in everyday life”. For example, a teacher should question a student using Socratic questioning like “why do you think that works like that”.
Importance in Education
Barnett (1997) suggests that critical thinking is important to apply in education because students can change their thought process and become more critical thinkers. In turn, empowering students with critical thinking skills that enables them to “identify, classify information to make intelligent and ethical decisions” (Braun, 2004, p. 232-236). As schools become diverse and curriculum’s become global, students need to take into account different cultures, ethics and religious backgrounds. Critical thinking is about having an interest in finding new solutions by examining problems closely and looking to support those ideas. Therefore critical thinking skills can give students the ability to understand what they are given in class, and develop the skills to build upon the knowledge they have learnt.
It can be concluded that critical thinking in education is the stepping stone for students to acquire critical thinking skills that will broaden their knowledge base. This will empower students with a curious mind to discover new solutions, in turn creating a learning society that takes into account information, ethics, different cultures and religious backgrounds when making decisions.