Ever been stuck on that one level of Candy Crush and cannot seem to get past it? Then, to make things worse, you notice all the other players on levels 254, 386, or some other outrageous level, while you have been stuck on level 46 for months. How on earth are these people so talented and smart? The answer is simple. It is called critical and creative thinking. Critical and creative thinking are two methods used to formulate a genuine response to a situation, which the decision could affect the future. This article identifies how important critical and creative thinking is in the hands of a judge, the characteristics of both thinking processes, and how it leads to higher intellectual thinking and decision making.
Experience in Critical and Creative Thinking
Every person is faced with a point in their life when they are left with no other means of a decision rather than to critically and creatively think about the situation. Many people use these types of thinking techniques on an everyday basis, while others may just live on the edge. According to James, N., Hughes, C., & Cappa, C (2010), “ Within the discipline of law, critical thinking is frequently emphasized but often defined with a lack of precision or not at all” (P. 287). James, Hughes, and Cappa identify the process of legal critical thinking, also known as CLT, below:
“ Type 1: The judgement of specific claims and arguments (including claims about the law and legal arguments) according to the criteria of accuracy and logic.
Type 2: The judgement of disciplinary knowledge (including legal doctrine, legal rules and legal processes) according to the criteria of consistency with theoretical and ideological standards (including jurisprudential and liberal standards).
Type 3: The judgement of norms, decisions and processes (including laws, legal decisions and legal processes) according to the criterion of equity of outcome.” (2010).
In The Mind of a Judge
When people do not weigh the positives and negatives of the actions they are about to perform, the consequences could result in a criminal record. Think of one person that has never broken the law. Any luck? Most likely, the answer is no. Let’s be honest; it is illegal to remove those ridiculous caution stickers that come on just about anything you purchase. On another note, not all people use their common sense on what will happen if you stick a fork in a toaster or drop a hair dryer in the bathtub full of water.
The point is if one does not use critical thinking before they act; the consequences could be a lot bigger than anyone may wish for. The cost of something that seems as little as a speeding ticket could always lead to the unexpected. Imagine role-playing a judicial position for a day. At first, it appears to be a piece of cake. Here is this giant book of rules and if you break them, you will get whichever consequence the book says. It is not quite that simple.
After the first few months on the job as the judge’s administrative assistant, a very difficult case came up that dealt with a past relationship between a man and a woman and a sexual assault case. The case left the judge and I puzzled and not sure on the verdict. He called for a recess, and we took a little while to discuss the nature of the situation. Not only did we use critical thinking, but also, creative thinking. We took out a piece of paper and step-by-step we went through the evidence to clarify how the story lines up. Then, we viewed the perspectives of both sides and the problems of possible scenarios. This was a very difficult situation because both of us knew the man that was being accused of the crime. After we finished laying out the steps of our critical thinking process, we then moved forward to our creative state of mind.
How would the outcome of our decision affect others? What will be accomplished in our decision-making? What behavioral patterns will be eliminated? After, writing out all of the details to both sides of the story and examining possible motives, we concluded that the defendant was not guilty. There was not enough evidence to prove the defendant guilty and the story of the victim did not add up. The pressure of making these paramount decisions is not a job anyone should wish for.
Any wrong decision could affect the life of another individual, or worse, more than one person. This is only one prime example why critical and creative thinking is an important factor in an effective decision-making process. The critical and creative thinking must be used by those who have the power to determine whether or not an individual is guilty or not guilty and how the guilty will pay for the consequences they brought upon themselves.
Critical and Creative Thinking Characteristics
With the variety of everyday challenges that may spontaneously occur, critical and creative thinking is a wise choice in the decision-making process for those important choices that must be made. Learning the characteristics of both thinking processes is vital in understanding how to practice critical and creative thinking effectively. Some of the characteristics of each will be discussed below.
The unbiased study and evaluation of a situation used to form a decision sums up the definition of critical thinking. Some characteristics that identify the clarity of critical thinking are as follows: 1) thinking that evolves to an accurate, precise, and depth decision, 2) thinking that develops higher intellectual traits, 3) thought that helps the thinker recognize the fundamentals of thought that exist in every problem, and 4) thinking involves the answering of questions before the decision is made. These are just a few characteristics to consider when using critical thinking. To effectively pursue this thought process one must be able logically to connect the fundamentals of each problem (Rusbult, 2008).
According to NC State University, creative thinking is, “the generation of new ideas within or across domains of knowledge, drawing upon or intentionally breaking with established symbolic rules and procedures. It usually involves the behaviors of preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, elaboration, and communication” (2014). Creative thinkers obtain a sum of common characteristics. Each thinker must contain a solid conscious of self-adequacy and are keen on taking risks. We often refer to these as “risk takers” rather than “critical thinkers”, but both can be used in specific problem solving.
Summary of Intellectual Thinking
In conclusion, not every important decision in life can be made by critical thinking but are better off using creative thinking to solve the problem. How would you feel if you were in a life or death situation in the hands of a doctor and they decided to kick back for a little to assess the situation, define possible negativities and outcomes and then compare and contrast them with the positives? You may not be here. Some decisions in life are best prepared based on creative thinking. However, if one practices critical thinking often, the intellectual ability to make bigger and wiser choices will develop. These abilities will help the creative state of mind become more natural and easier.
Hence, why it was more difficult for me to determine the verdict of the trial earlier. Critical and creative thinking requires a higher intellectual ability and confidence. In order to posses these skills, one must be able to ignore the natural instinct to protect your personal beliefs. Anyone could be incorrect; critical and creative thinkers need to be ready to face that possibility. After the knowledge of critical and creative thinking, your intellectual thoughts will thicken and create your own knowledge of the world. Rather than seeking the thoughts of others and their assumptions, your brain will provide you with the proper knowledgeable toolkit to make your own conclusions based on the information provided.
James, N., Hughes, C., & Cappa, C. (2010). Conceptualising, developing and assessing critical thinking in law. Teaching In Higher Education, 15(3), 285-297.
NC State Univeristy. (2014). Critical and Creative Thinking Definitions. Adapted from John Dewey; Richard Paul and Lind Elder; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and M.A. Rosenman and J. S. Gero. Retrieved from http://accreditation.ncsu.edu/critical-creative-thinking-definitions.
Rusbult, C. (December 2008). Critical Thinking Skills In Education and Life. The American Scientific Affiliation. Retrieved from http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/think/critical.htm#critical-thinking