Critical and creative thinking skills are used throughout our lives to help us make important decisions and guide us through our most difficult and treasured moments. These particular thinking skills are deemed to be higher levels of thought and through this higher level of thinking, help us make both personal and professional decisions. According to Le Cornu (2009), critical thinking is defined “as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered” (p.1). This type of thinking embodies three different characteristics in its approach, these three dimensions are, analytic, evaluation and creative. In taking this approach one must be ableto think critically through reflection, observation of the major components and also incorporate some creativity to come up with unique ways to address the situation. Utilizing this approach guides us and gives us a strategy to incorporate both critical and creative thinking which work hand in hand to allow us to arrive at our final decision. Critical and creative thinking are thought to “involve a complex approach to arriving at an educated decision by implementing a strategy for questioning and reasoning that will allow arrival at a final well informed outcome” (Nicholls, 2010).
I have used critical and creative thinking in my life many times, most recently I used this thinking process to make a very important decision. This decision consisted of deciding whether to come back school and pursue my Masters in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral Health. This decision required thoughtful thinking and was used to obtain the best possible decision I could. I decided to use this method of thinking because, according to Paul & Elder (2006), “critical thinking is the active, persistent and careful consideration of a belief or form of knowledge, the grounds that support it and the conclusions that follow” (p.5). I considered this to be a very important decision therefore I understood that it would require thoughtful consideration to arrive at the right choice for me. At this point in my life three major things had to be evaluated, analyzed and thought about creatively. My family, my career, and the value of obtaining a graduate degree. I had to take extensive time and weigh the pros and cons of returning to school at this point.
I had to examine those major factors critically and I also had to be creative in my thinking to work out the details. Nicholls (2010), states that creativity “involves forming ideas to solve problems and resolve issues” (p.12). In considering such a life changing decision, intellectual and out of the box methods had to be considered. My family consists of my 3 year old daughter and my fiancée. In making this very important decision I had to examine how this decision would affect these two very important people. Factors included, time and money. Evaluating if my family would suffer because of the time and energy I would use pursuing my degree. Also, how would the amount of tuition effect our financial status and how would we adjust to this. Being a fulltime mom for two years, living off of one salary, having no savings, were all factors that had to be taken into consideration. On one hand, obtaining a higher degree could potentially increase our income, however one the other hand, paying the tuition in the interim while still living off of one salary had to be taken into consideration.
These very important issues all had to be evaluated and analyzed. In taking these issues into consideration I was offered a full time position, providing ABA intervention to children on the Autism Spectrum. This presented an exciting, positive opportunity except for the fact that I was not thinking about returning to school at the very same time. This exciting opportunity presented me with both obstacles and benefits that I had to incorporate. Some of these obstacles included being able to perform at the best of my abilities, completing tasks proficiently and number one on the list ensuring that I have enough time to spend with my family. In examining these obstacles I had to analyze the immediate benefits that this entailed as well, one of which included, having two salaries, having the financial security that two incomes can provide. Being that my daughter is only three years old, constantly growing and changing each day, every minute spent away from her, could potentially be a minute that I missed a major milestone in her life. Included in this struggle for time would be less time to complete school work, to study, to interact with classmates.
Therefore in turn leaving less time to take in the overall experience that a graduate program has to offer. Having all this to consider I had to resort to sound thinking otherwise known as critical and creative thinking which “requires both imagination and intellectual standards” (Paul &Elder) (p.4). These things contributed to the quality of my decision in that I took the time to analyze all factors, evaluate how these things would both have a negative or positive affect, and be creative in the ways that I could go about planning, and organizing my life to incorporate this change. In doing this I used “cognitive skills or strategies that increased the probability of a desirable outcome” (Halpern 1998). My education, affordability, time, completing assignments to the best of my abilities and learning all appropriate information were all things that had to be taken into consideration. Going back to school requires dedication in time, money and consistency.
Would I have enough time to complete assignments and tasks, would I be able to afford this? Considering all options I finally arrived at the decision to return to school and accomplish my dream of obtaining a master’s degree. When I thought methodically, incorporated a strategy that allowed myself to evaluate and analyze the pros and cons, while also incorporating some creativity I was able to see that this was the right decision for me. In thinking critically and creatively I came to the conclusion that it would not be perfect, I would not be able to fulfill all my duties every day. However with patience, organization, and discipline I am currently on the right track, and am happy with the outcome thus far.
There are days when I cannot believe I made this decision. There are times when I am just too exhausted to make that special meal for my family and feel defeated. However, after taking a few moments for myself I am able to realize that there is tomorrow, and in that day I can once again try and accomplish what I did not the day before. In thinking this way I am still incorporating critical and creative thinking skills in which bring about a positive outcome.
Halpern, D. F. (1998). Teaching critical thinking for transfer across domains: Dispisitions skills, structure training, and meta cognitive
monitoring. American Psychologist 53(4), 440-445. Le Cornu, A. (2009). Meaning internalizations and Externalization: Towards a fuller understanding of the process of reflection and its role in the construction of the self. Adult Quarterly 59 (4), 279-297. Nicholls, D. D. (2010). Development of critical thinking and creativity: Practical guidelines for the postsecondary classroom. ATEA Journal 38 (1), 12-15. Paul, R. E. (2006). Critical thinking: The naute of critical and creative thought. Journal of Developmental Education , 34-35.