Thursday, March 29, 2007

How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills

One of the sad deficiency of our education system (from preschool to graduate school) is the failure of the system to teach students critical thinking skills. The emphasis is more on schooling-instructional pedagogy (teaching methodology) which emphasise on memory retention skills rather than evaluation skills. Thus,we have a nation of people who accepts "facts' uncritically, argue irrationally but often with passion, and live unexamined lives.

There are 6 steps to developing critical thinking skills

(1) Knowing
We first have to acquired knowledge, especially of a subject we want to find out about. This acquiring of knowledge may come from reading a book, a journal or magazine, reading an online article, or watching a documentary on television or DVD. However, it is not enough to acquire or memorise the knowledge. You will only know something if you are able to repeat what you have read or heard.

Repeating what you read or hear may not be enough. It just proves that you have a good memory. What you need to do is to repeat what you have read or heard in your own words.

(3) Application
The next step in the critical thinking process is to make use of what you have read or heard in your conversations and in the sharing of ideas with others.

(4) Analysis
Slowly, we need to develop the skills of understanding how the author or producer thinks and how he or she arrives at his or her conclusions. Unless we are able to put ourselves in another person's shoes and articulate his or her arguments, whether we agree with it or not, we cannot be said to have analytical thinking. This means being able to compare and contrast different points of view.

(5) Synthesis
This is where we are able to put together different points of view and make our own independent considered opinion.

(6) Evaluation
This last part is the important part because it involves being able to judge the worth and value of different points of view and also the strengths and weaknesses of our own considered opinion.

This is the process of critical thinking. Critical thinking is needed now, more than ever in our nation and in our churches.


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