Critical Thinking and Its Beneficial Use
Critical Thinking and Its Beneficial Use
There are nuggets of wisdom about life that tell of applicable truths about it. We can surely find an array of them: “live like there’s no tomorrow”, “do good and avoid evil”, “do not do unto others what you do not want others do unto you”, among others. But there is one adage about life that most people – if not all people – will personally come across as they grow old in life. It goes by the phrase, “life is the best teacher in the world. ” Even modern schools of thought accede to this; for one cannot simply dismiss the truth that lies in the fact that “experience…is a major resource in learning situations” (Brookfield, 1986, p. 38).
True enough, there are experiences in life that teach vital lessons. They can figure in the learning one draws from school, or the decisions one takes on oneself, or even mistakes one commits in the process. But learning from the past does not necessarily have to translate to committing so many indecisions and mistakes in life. While learning generally stems from the lessons one draws from the past, one does not always have to commit mistakes to know which decision works or not.
There can be a lot of things at stake and far many more things to lose were one to put on an attitude of laxity in facing life. Surely, life may allow certain latitude for mistakes; but the general thumb-rule about it runs by the premise that one engages first in thoughtful consideration of possibilities and consequences before making a major decision. As it were, this is where critical thinking comes in. Critical Thinking: Its Nature and Aspects Critical thinking is basically an exercise involving correct reasoning.
At the very least, critical thinking is done to arrive at a correct judgment over matters that may or may not lead to a certain kind of decision. Thomson would define critical thinking as an exercise that is “centrally concerned with giving reasons for one’s beliefs and actions, analyzing and evaluating one’s own and other people’s reasoning, devising and constructing better reasoning” (Thomson, 2002, p. 2. Fundamentally, critical thinking is a process and not a possession of an immediate or intuitive knowledge.
One does not usually engage in critical thinking if he or she is not willing to undergo its meticulous process – a process which may involve the following activities: recognition of the problem, gathering of facts, analyzing gathered data, evaluation of other possibilities, and, last but not least, drawing logical conclusions (Thomson, 2002, p. 2). According to Thomson, there are at least three major aspects involved in critical thinking. First, to think critically means analyze the kind of reasoning one submits.
In this process, one is enjoined to “pick out those features of language which tell us that reasoning is taking place” (Thomson, 2002, p. 5). It must be remembered that reasoning is done on a daily basis. Which is why, one needs to discern the nature of reasoning one encounters – whether it is descriptive, analytic, or in many cases, argumentative. The second aspect is the assessment or evaluation of the correctness of the reasoning. Assessment is quite important in the critical thinking process since it entails reviewing all the facts being presented as bases for arguments.
“Assessment,” says one book on learning, is “a process of reasoning from evidence” (Pellegrino, et. al. , 2001, p. 42). Too often, one’s reasoning becomes correct or not based on the way one assumes judgments over facts. It is therefore important to get into what the facts tell. After all, facts don’t lie; and for one to use them as vital for critical thinking, facts are must observed well, interpreted reasonably and understood correctly (Pellegrino, et. al, 2001, p. 44). The third aspect is about drawing conclusions – logical conclusions that is.
Usually, any kind of reasoning will have both premises and conclusions. One’s task is to see the coherence of the premises (gathered from facts or observations) with the conclusions (usually comes as judgments or decisions being made over something) being forwarded. Critical thinking has to end up making a kind of judgment after all things are considered. But at the end of this process, one must always remember that the repercussions of one’s judgment shall measure the amount of critical thinking one has engaged in before making decision.
The fruit, they often say, does not fall far from the tree. By Way of Conclusion: Exercising Critical Thinking in Life The profession that I have requires a lot of critical thinking as well. Being assigned as a security manager for a defense contracting company, I am tasked to oversee the performance of at least five to seven persons under my care. I realized that handling people is not like sitting on some paper works or transcripts. To manage people means to give an ear to many of their reports and assessments.
Since as persons, they are entitled to act on their particular judgments, it is my task to be critical about what they tell me. Too often, I see myself evaluating if a person has to be fired from his or her post after committing serious errors in the field. Yet there are instances too when I would find sufficient reasons to give an erring employee another chance depending on circumstances that defined the moment. Either way, I am required to be very careful about the situation, and exercise critical thinking for that matter.
My experiences made me realize that critical thinking has two important benefits. First, it reduces the possibility of errors. Since my job involves a lot of decision making not only about the nature of jobs that need to be done, but also the way my people should do them, I have to avoid as many mistakes as possible. A mistake of firing an employee for instance may have serious repercussions not only for the company for also for the family of the employee I fire.
Critical thinking – and all the processes that it entails: recognition, assessment or evaluation of facts, and drawing logical conclusions – helps me a lot in minimizing the possibility of committing a very bad decision. Second, I came to appreciate critical thinking as a good way to make my decisions logical and objective. Many times, I am faced with decisions over people. As much as I want to be very objective about them, I am also faced with the fact that I can operate based on my personal biases about people.
Critical thinking enables me to dwell on the facts, and base my decisions not so much on the basis of personalities, but on account of results or issues. Works Cited Brookfield, S. (1986). Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning. California: Jossey-Bass. Pellegrino, J, Chudowsky, N. & Glaser, R. (2001). Knowing What Students Know. Washington, DC: National Academy. Thomson, A. (2002). Critical Reasoning. A Practical Introduction. New York: 2002.