“Critical thinking” is a buzz word often heard in high education. A goal of most post secondary institutions is to graduate students with a broad range of thinking skills in addition to vocational aptitudes. But are you truly learning critical thinking in your college program? Many professors think they are teaching higher level though processes when, in reality, they are merely providing information to be digested for the short-term and repeated back on an exam.
Critical thinking involves really using your mind to look at all angles of a situation and to be able to generate possible solutions and outcomes on your own. Let’s look at some ways to improve indpendent thinking regardless of the method of instruction. Not to say there aren’t amazing educators out there who are encouraging critical thinking in their students, but a true critical thinker doesn’t need the guidance of others in order to look at an issue from all angles.
Think It Through
Look at your lessons from numerous perspectives. Listen to what the instructor is telling you, but go beyond that to decide if what you’re hearing makes sense to you. Do you see any holes in the information? Do any questions come to mind? Does something just not add up? Make a note of anything that stands out to you.
Talk It Out
After thinking things through and making your notes, talk to someone about it. Talking to your professor is a great way to look at various perspectives. If you begin a conversation, it’s likely that others will get involved. Critical thinking doesn’t happen on its own. You need to go outside your comfort zone in order to move forward in your way of thought.
I’m not just talking about having an open mind here. Though it’s important to remain open to various perspectives, what I’m referring to is the changes within yourself. Once you begin to practice critical thinking, you may find that your views change and your opinions may evolve. Lots of developmental changes occur over the course of obtaining a college degree. Realize that you’re supposed to grow and change in college. That’s the point of a liberal arts education model that most colleges follow. When you notice these internal changes, take time to consider the reason behind the change or how you feel about it. This is another example of critical thinking.
Critical thinking is a skill that comes with time. Just be open to the process and realize that some of the parts of college that seem to be challenging or difficult are really means of helping you along your journey to becoming a critical thinker and well-rounded person.