CRITICAL THINKING is often confused with finding things to disagree with. Perhaps the word “critical” is what gets in our way.
Actually, critical thinking is more about depth: critical thinkers look under issues and state truths that haven’t been spoken:
- What are the larger ramifications of this discussion?
- What are the motivations and belief systems that underlie the author or speaker’s opinions and the way he (or she) frames and discusses issues?
- What are the motivations and belief systems that underlie my own opinions? Through what lens am I viewing the world?
- If I’m having a strong reaction, such as anger or frustration, to a particular book, set of ideas, or person, why might I be having this reaction? What “truth” is under- neath my emotional reaction?
- What two or three main ideas do I get out of this piece of writing, lecture, or conversation? What ideas here stimulate and inspire me?
- Do I feel comfortable in this learning situation? Why or why not? Am I gaining something from this experience?
- Is this conversation making me feel invigorated or energized? Or is it making me feel sluggish? Why might this be?
Critical thinking is the ability to look under the surface of what is being said and discussed. It involves examining our own lenses and perspectives through which we’re thinking and responding.
It’s about looking deeper.
Excerpted from Getting Messy: A Guide to Taking Risks and Opening the Imagination.