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Critical thinking is a tool to coordinate and structure our ideas to make sense; we use this to train our mind into getting a better understanding of the information that's been presented to us.
Critical Thinking is not as the term may imply as hard or negative rather critical thinking can mean positive and productive processes, critical thinking in a simple explanation is a set of skills and strategies that you can use to make reasonable decisions about what to do and what to believe in any particular situation.
Why is critical thinking so important in today's society and in an individual's learning ability well critical thinking is used daily by people in all aspects of life and many don't actually know they are even doing it, a typical situation many will be using critical thinking skills in would be the participation of a debate, this will typically bring out critical thinking skills such as evaluation, analysis, interpretation and so forth, a typical person with critical thinking skills will have the following qualities and abilities; confident in reasoning, opened minded, analytical, systematic and Inquisitive
And there are those who have 'weak' critical thinking skills they will typically possess these types of values, close minded, low self esteem, inflexible, jumps to conclusions and not willing to reconsider an opinion
From the examples of skills above in my opinion people who possess skills such as the ability to evaluate an opinion based on analysis would be someone who's learning ability and self motivation is high therefore they are using critical thinking to seek logical explanations and to recognise fact from opinion to determine the truth.
According to Ray Marshall & Marc Tucker, Thinking For A Living, 'The future now belongs to societies that organize themselves for learning... nations that want high incomes and full employment must develop policies that emphasize the acquisition of knowledge and skills by everyone, not just a select few.' (Basic Books New York 1992)
There are three main styles within critical thinking that need to be addressed in order to understand critical thinking more logically these styles are; logical style, persuasive style and creative style.
Logical thinking is a complex process which is used to come to a conclusion, this style typically involves a step by step process or thought to solve a particular problem. The concept of logical thinking can be applied to almost any type of case or contextual situation but only after careful evaluation of the situation has fully been analyzed and evaluated.
Persuasive thinking is all about getting people to go along with your idea or believe and act in accordance with what you want. Many people use this train of thinking in everyday situations and to help with persuasion in any situation the contributor will submit facts to support their views on the subject, this will help gain others to become supportive of their views. A typical example of fact and opinion based persuasion is; FACT there are nearly two and a half million students studying in the UK at all levels (Universities UK 2010 web material accessed 18 March 2010) opinion 'most 19 - 25 year olds are currently unemployed within the UK'. By using persuasive thinking you can argue against fact and opinion and ultimately persuade others to use critical thinking to determine which statement to support.
Creative thinking is all about thinking outside the circle or box. There are many ways creative thinking helps develop a situation the most common ways of being creative in solving issues or problems within the work place are structured around the use of brainstorming and starbursting.
Brainstorming has no initial limits or boundaries so creative discussion or thinking can be used to create ideas to solve the problem. Starbursting is a tool/tactic used because the central problem has already been established allowing creative suggestions to arise to solve this problem in a logical format.
As explained above critical thinking is made up of different thinking styles and learning abilities and together these styles and abilities help make up the term Critical Thinking that we use so widely in education and employment on a daily basis and at times we don't even acknowledge we are using this valuable skill.
Each thinking style has many advantages and disadvantages in any particular situation but when all these styles and abilities are combined solutions, problems and any normal situations can be more easily understood and resolved, once this has been achieved than so has the use of effective Critical Thinking.
Please find all my references and places I have visited to conduct this essay on critical thinking although I may not have included or specifically used any text from the stated books, webpage's, videos or other material I must include it to show valued time and research has gone into this assignment.
Marshall & Marc Tucker, Thinking For A Living Basic Books New York 1992
http://www.insightassessment.com/pdf_files/what&why2006.pdf [visited on 12th March 2010]
http://www.freeinquiry.com/critical-thinking.html [visited on 12th March 2010]
http://www.criticalthinking.org/page.cfm?CategoryID=64 [visited on 12th March 2010]
http://academic.udayton.edu/BradHume/hst103/critthink.htm [visited on 13th March 2010]
http://www.freeonlineresearchpapers.com/critical-thinking [visited on 18 March 2010]
http://www.5min.com/Tag/critical+thinking?CategoryID=0 [visited on 17March 2010]
http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/Newsroom/Facts-and-Figures/Pages/default.aspx [visited on 18th March 2010]