Thoughts on critical thinking

IN nearly every aspect of our lives, critical thinking is important especially now that we are being bombarded with an abundance of information every day.

‘Critical thinking’ as a term has been debated since the days of the ancient Greek philosophers. It can be described in many ways.

In the 1995 publication ‘Critical Thinking’, author Barry K Beyer defined it as making reasoned judgments.

Such judgements involve thinking rationally, reflectively, and independently; effective critical thinkers examine an issue by taking into account every possible option while withholding personal biases before coming to an evidence-based conclusion.

They also question knowledge or information that they have obtained, tolerate ambiguity, consider short- and long-term implications, and are willing to accept new valid ideas, subsequently changing their perceptions.

In that sense, being critical doesn’t necessarily mean offering a negative opinion and doesn’t only focus on important matters; instead, it involves having a greater holistic understanding of things.

Achieving such in-depth understanding requires soft skills that will sound rather familiar to you, such as observation, being analytical, communication, problem-solving, open-mindedness, and creativity.

Its close connection with these skills and its relevance to various modes of thinking – scientific, economic, moral, societal, etc – makes critical thinking a necessity in almost every profession and industry.

Regardless of your specialisation or field, if you’re looking for a job, having critical thinking skills makes you a valuable candidate for potential employers.

After all, critical thinking is listed as one of the most sought-after skills in the World Economic Forum report ‘The Future of Jobs’.

With the global economy now driven by technology and information, it helps to be able to think critically, as well as to be digitally and data literate, in order to adapt effectively to the rapid changes.

The use of critical thinking isn’t limited to the workplace.

If you’re a student, critical thinking is essential to succeed.

This is especially so when learning and applying the right resources and information, and presenting your arguments and ideas with different viewpoints.

Still, it’s worth noting that developing your ability to think critically takes time and practice, for there will be times when you’ll experience emotional outbursts when confronted with initially worrying scenarios.

Therefore, it’s a lifelong effort to be a critical thinker.

Not only does it allow you to face real-world situations more reasonably, and communicate better with yourself and others, the ability to think critically will make us active learners instead of a passive recipient as well.

 

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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