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To think critically encompasses one’s cognitive ability to look past the ostensible attestations offered by the writer or portrayer of the message and instead delve into the issues from various perspectives with an open mind. Evaluative thinking demands that we discern the sender’s (of the message or information) approach or standpoint to the topics subjectivity skews even the most seemingly credible academic data, and ensure that it is applicable to our research, after which you deduce whether to accept or refute the claims.
Through thorough research, you should be able to provide concrete academically logical data to reinforce your perspective (Thayer-Bacon). Critical thinking in social work urges us to remain non-aligned to preconceived ideas or thoughts while gathering information (Miller). As aforementioned, subjectivity is not discriminatory of the message nor messenger and is therefore expected to be present in all writings to an extent, even my own. My standpoint will therefore be influenced by my long term environment, value systems, and moral compass, which is firmly embedded in my religious beliefs (Reflective Writing, 2019), it is, therefore, crucial to practice frequent introspection in order to increase self-awareness.
As a youngster attending school, we were taught to think analytically rather than critically. Analytical thinking allows us to dissect a problem piece and analyze each component separately, regrettably, however, you can only work with the material that you have at hand or that the speaker or writer has provided you with, therefore as effective as this approach is to solve mathematical and geometrical problems, it holds little to no value in the social work field in which the human nature and the environment must be taken into consideration.
Past experiences have impacted and increased my reasons for thinking critically in most- if not all- situations. As a social worker in training, we must oftentimes find ourselves looking beyond what others want us to see or believe. Body language, appearance, verbal communication, and the person-in-environment perspective must all be taken into consideration. Throughout my tenure as a social work intern, I found myself silently diagnosing the root of a client’ issues without first collecting all the above-listed data and this was credited to familiarity with their case and past diagnoses, however, it is important to note that no two cases are the same. Having experienced a scenario in which a lack of critical thinking dismissed my client’s best interest, I have improved my skills in critical thinking through continuous professional development.
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