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Thinking is the activity of using your brain by considering a problem or possibility or creating an idea. Thinking could also be seen as ideas or opinions about something.
When you do critical thinking, you are the critic. That is, you will have to trust yourself as an evaluator, a surge, a critic. That doesn't mean you should just be content with the ideas and judgments that you already have or that you should simply announce your prejudices and expect everyone use to accept them. It does mean that you can look at your subject, ask good questions about it, and come to a conclusion. It also means that when you make a judgment, your judgments counts for something. You can just accept the judgments that others make, if they are ok, and it also means that it is possible to learn from the judgments of others, but you will be entitled to be your own judge.
Critical thinking also calls for you to take time to consider: responsible critical thinking requires a meditative pause, however brief. In order to make a reasonable judgment about a poem, for example, you have to pause, not just to think it, but to re-think it, to look again at particular lines, to study particular images, to exam the poem closely. In order to make a reasonable judgment about a building, you have to stop and look at it, then move to another side and look again, then move inside and look again. If you are judging a piece of music, you have to listen and listen again until you can begin to know it. That is critical thinking. As you continue to consider your subject, you ask interesting and useful questions-How does it work?
Why is it put together as it is? What goes wrong just here and what works well just there?
How do the parts relate to each other? What effect does it have and what gives it that effect? If it works well, why does it do so? If it works poorly, what has gone wrong? And the questions go on. Critical thinking calls for that.
Critical thinking calls for you to make a judgment. That is you justify your judgment. You cannot guarantee that you will agree with all that you hear, but you can show why you are saying what you say and refuse what you refuse. When you are thinking about a poem or TV programmed, for example, you can quote the lines that illustrate your points or lead you to think as you do; you can also degrease the scenes or episodes that lead you to a judgment. The form of critical thinking, for example, is often determined by your use of evidence.
From the above examples and evidences, it is clear that critical thinking is related to academic competency. Because critical thinking is not just super filial thinking, it is a thinking that is strongly linked with unbiased evidence; not thinking marred by prejudices rather based on logical and scientific evidences. Furthermore, when you think critically, your reading of others written texts will be based purely on what they have said in their materials and probably fairly understanding, from the text, the underlying intents of the writers. Critical thinking will also help when you are writing too considering the following all-important questions critically:
In a critical writing, the writer will carefully consider a subject and come to a conclusion about it. Having come to this conclusion, the writer then goes back to the subject to cite particular passages or features that illustrate or account for the conclusion. For example, this procedure can suffice:
I note that Baze University has particular characteristics.
I note that her students have particular characteristics,
I note that her lecturers have particular characteristics.
I note that her structures have particular characteristics.
As a result, I believe Baze University is a standard higher institution of learning. To prove this statement in relation to critical thinking: the writer observes particular details and uses them to form conclusion. I have observed particular details in Baze University such as: conducive learning environment, motivated and result oriented lecturers who are dedicated to their jobs. Furthermore, critical thinking and writing call for you to provide specific evidences for your judgments, specific illustrations of the points you wish to make. To buttress this further, I have provided specific evidences such as conducive learning environment, motivated and qualified lecturers doing their respective jobs perfectly well; with these particulars I have shown the readers the track of my critical thinking and they can track me; that is, know where I am coming from and where I am going critically.
The following ways or questions are useful to keep in mind as you read any piece of critical thinking or writing:
How and where does the author express his judgments or where have I expressed my primary judgments?
What kinds of questions does the author ask and answer?
What does he take time to consider?
How does the author reveal his knowledge of the subject?
How and when does the author provide illustrations or cite particular evidence?
Being a critical thinker, reader and writer also entails distinguishing fact from opinion: one of the keys to being a critical reader or writer is being able to separate statements of fact from statements of opinion.
Facts: A statement of fact can be verified, or proved to be true, using a written source (such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, or other reference book) an authority, a scientific experiment, or direct personal observation or reasoning.
Statement of fact: The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
This is a statement of fact because it can be verified by a written source, such as encyclopedia or a scientific textbook, or by direct personal observation.
Opinion: A statement of opinion expresses a persona's feelings, judgments, or predictions about a given situation. An opinion statement cannot be proved to be true or false. When a critical thinker comes across an opinion in a piece of writing, he should look to see whether the writer has supported the opinion with facts. Opinions that are backed up by facts are more worthy of acceptance a critical thinker and writer than those that are not. For example, supported opinion: Solar energy is the most logical form of energy to develop because the sun will continue to release energy for another 5 million years.
Unsupported: Solar energy is the best king of energy, and in a few years, energy one will use solar energy instead of fossil fuels.
The first opinion statement is worthy of serious consideration because it is based on related facts. The second opinion statement, however, is not worthy of acceptance because it is not supported by facts.
Another aspect critical thinker is akin to reading and writing is identifying the author's purpose: Another part of being a critical thinker is knowing how to determine the author's reason for writing. As you read, you should look for clues to help you identify the author's purpose. When you think you know what the author's purpose is, you should confirm this idea by linking it to details from the text.
Following are some common purposes: To inform; the writer presents a series of factual statements.
To instruct: The writer provides step-by-step explanation of an idea or process.
To offer an opinion: The writer presents his or her view point on an issue and attempts to convince readers to accept that view point.
To sell: The writer uses persuasive techniques to convince readers to buy something.
To entertain: The author tells an engaging, often amusing story, or looks at a subject in an amusing way.
Another way critical thinking is akin to reading and writing is by applying forms of reasoning. As a critical thinker and reader, you should also use forms of reasoning-logical ways of thinking- to grasp underlying meaning and to make connections that extend beyond the text.
Critical thinkers make inferences: Sometimes, an author states his or her main ideas directly. In other cases, however, main ideas are implied, or conveyed indirectly. It is left up to you as a critical thinker to piece together details to figure out what they mean or what message they convey. This is called making inferences. For example,
Information: Mahmud has been published in three difference magazines.
Inference: Mahmud is a talented writer.
Critical thinkers and readers make generalizations: you should also make generalizations, when appropriate, as you read or think. A generalization is a broad statement based on a large number of facts and examples.
Information: It rained on 25 out of 30 days this May.
Generalization: This May was a rainy month.
Critical thinkers avoid hasty generalization; it is one based on too few examples, or one that fails to account for exceptions. Use these questions, as a critical thinker, to make valid generalizations:
What examples are presented, and how are they connected?
Will the generalization hold true for all- or most- examples? Are there any exceptions to this statement? Are enough examples given to make a valid generalization?
Being a critical thinker which is an academic competency akin to reading and writing is being a good analyst of language -the medium of communication. Critical thinkers and readers look at the language a writer uses and examine how the writer organizes the information that is presented. Authors sometimes use language in ways that can suggest how you should feel about a particular subject or issue. Denotation, connotation and jargon are three ways that authors use language to affect readers' opinions and ideas about what you are reading. Being a critical thinker/reader means the ability to analyses these writers' languages. The exact meaning of a word is called its denotation. Connotation, on the other hand, refers to the feelings that a word stirs up. Often, writers carefully choose words with certain connotations. Jargon is the use of specialized vocabulary intended for a specific audience. For example, sport writers or doctors. Jargon is meant to have a very precise meaning, but it often hides, rather than reveals meaning.