Thursday, May 17, 2012

Critical Thinking Research Paper

Critical Thinking Research Paper

1. Introduction
It seems that when a child is brought to the world, his mind falls under the control of almost everyone involved in his growth and development; parents, relatives, nannies, teachers, friends, colleagues, bosses, politicians, etc. It is the responsibility of the elders to direct and form a young person’s mind until he reaches the age of 17-18, when he is able to make decisions on his own and to be fully responsible for his actions. However, even after reaching this age and becoming independent, one’s ability to use his full potential in building and developing his personality is questionable. In fact, a person is always a ‘product’ of the society he was raised in, in terms of, to name few examples, the clothes he wears, the professions he chooses or the politicians he supports.

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According to Clement & Lochhead, “We should be teaching students how to think. Instead, we are teaching them what to think” (1980, p.1). Unfortunately, already in the schools educators fail to realize the importance of explaining their students the way they should approach the knowledge given to them during the classes, demanding from them to learn and memorize an enormous amount of material instead. The world today lacks people who are able to think and act on their own, who do not follow the authorities and believe every word they say without questioning whether they are right or not. The world today lacks critical thinkers.

2. What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking was first introduced 2,500 years ago by Socrates. He was the first one to question authorities’ rightness and correctness of their regulations. ‘Socratic Questioning’ was Socrates’ method for teaching his students how to express their ideas and beliefs in a clear and enlightened way. According to this method, students were asked several questions such as: (Syque, 2009, 2-5) Why are you saying that? How do you know this? Why is that happening? How could you look another way at this? What are the consequences of that assumption? What was the point of asking this question? These questions helped him to go deeper into the topic of the discussion and to develop better arguments.

Critical thinking helps us to correctly approach the issue; gather and sort all the needed information; separate facts from opinions; consider all possible outcomes; and come to an accurate conclusion or decision. Through questioning the existing beliefs and norms in a given society, critical thinkers can find an absolutely innovative and enhanced solution to open and undecided issues.

3. Benefits of Critical Thinking
Innovative and accurate problem solving is only one of the major benefits of critical thinking. In addition to the obvious advantage of critical thinking in decision-making, it has several other benefits worth mentioning:

First, the critical thinker is more calm and confident. A person who thinks critically knows that her solution is correct since she uses the facts while analyzing the issue, approaches the problem from different points of view and questions not only common beliefs and opinions, but also his own.

Second, critical thinking saves time. Before a critical thinker begins to act, he goes through all the possible results certain move can cause. If a fast decision is required, the critical thinker will seek for the shortest way to it, thus will not waste time on experimenting with any possible option.

Finally, critical thinking can improve communication. When analyzing the problem or question, critical thinkers take into consideration all the existing facts, beliefs and knowledge. Hence, critical thinkers can foresee the reaction of other people to a certain issue and their approach to it.

4. An example of Critical Thinking
One good example of using critical thinking is teamwork. When a group of people is confronted with an issue and has to find a solution collectively, asking questions is the best way to make people think and to discover creative and innovative ideas. This could be done not only by brainstorming and bringing up random thoughts and ideas, but also by going deeper into several possible options.

If, for example, a new promotional strategy must be created for a certain product, the group should not only concentrate on the idea itself, but also take into consideration the company’s budget, different ways of carrying out the task, the necessity of the prospective change, consumers’ response to this new concept, etc.

5. Conclusion
It does not matter in what aspect of life person uses critical thinking. Whatever he is doing, his use of critical thinking will always improve the process and the result. Being able to use one’s mind to the best possible extent can bring enormous changes to his life and to the lives of others.
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