By Ayesha Areej
‘I think therefore I am,’ says Descartes, a famous 17th-century philosopher, and mathematician. Such is the importance of critical thinking in the world of knowledge.
Every intellectual is a critical thinker. Or you can say critical thinking is the trait that makes a person an intellectual. Unfortunately, the structure of our school education is not designed to make students effective thinkers. Thinking capabilities come with challenges, inquisitiveness, and interest in new ideas. Whereas, schools work with principles opposite to that. Thus, the system is unable to produce critical thinkers. Instead, it produces people who are more likely to just conform with the system and not question it.
However, to be a critical thinker, you will have to think and work opposite to that. You can become a critical thinker by having a few traits that are mentioned here.
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Researcher Emily Lai’s Pearson Assessments are very helpful in developing critical thinking traits. She argues, for a person to have critical thinking, it is necessary to have the following traits.
Open and fair-mindedness: to be open to new ideas, think fairly about different situations without any biases, and come up with an uninfluenced and fair point of view
Inquisitiveness: having a curious nature, asking questions about different concepts and ideas, and an urge to reach the depth of a concept
Flexibility: not having rigid views about anything or any idea, not following an ideology blindly, having the courage to accept opposite views, think about them, and give them equal space
Propensity to seek reason: tending to find a reason in every act and idea, not believing in anything without it being logical
A desire to be well-informed: having an interest in knowing new things and being well-informed about the facts about diverse issues and ideas
Respect for and willingness to entertain diverse viewpoints: being willing to entertain, think about, and accept diverse ideas and give respect to them for example, religion.
Considering these points and then assessing ourselves, it comes up that very few of us are critical thinkers. We are not even tolerant of different points of view whether political, religious, social, or cultural, accepting them and being willing to give them equal space is a far next stage. Not just that, we are also not good at other traits like inquisitiveness and reasonability, etc. However, it is not too late. You can develop these traits now. Adopting the following habits can help you with that.
Read, read, read
Reading a lot. It is the only thing that can keep you well-informed, well-aware, and push you to think about them. Read fiction, philosophy, politics, and everything through different sources. It will give you enough ideas and content to think about something like an intellectual. Moreover, you will have a mature point of view because now you have different tangents to think about on one idea.
Take time to come up with a final point of view
Never jump to conclusions even when you know a lot about a certain issue. It is a trait of the people who never think they need to know more or think about it first. Giving it enough time allows you to think about it and then challenge it until you think you have come up with a sound conclusion.
Never be enough of reading and knowing
The willingness to know more should never die. It will enhance the urge to know more. Moreover, never feel sufficient of having acquired knowledge. As a matter of fact, there is always a lot more to know about. Having this perspective, you will stay inquisitive and that sure is a trait of critical thinkers. Along with that, it will make you well-informed, open-minded, and respectful of different ideas.
Play devil’s advocate with yourself
Adopt the trait of scientists. Challenge your ideas and beliefs by taking the opposite side. Argue with yourself until you find no logical reason to oppose it. Only then you can call your beliefs the ones that are formed on logical grounds and are for the greater good. Moreover, do not adopt a belief just because you believe in others’ thinking powers who follow it. This is the exact opposite of what critical thinkers do.
Know the difference between overthinking and critical thing
Overthinking can be about anything like what you going to wear tomorrow, what people think about you, or what is your relationship going like. Thinking about anything that is not associated with some real ideas and greater concepts for long periods is overthinking that has nothing to do with critical thinking. However, people confuse these things. If you want to be a critical thinker, you will have to leave overthinking about petty issues.
Just like food is necessary for life, critical thinking is the food for the soul and is necessary for it to thrive. Explore all the ideas, knowledge, and traits that can make you an effective critical thinker. It will not only make you a better person but will make you accept differences. Thus, this whole society will be a better place to live in.
*Ayesha Areej is a staff writer at The Academia Magazine
*This article first appeared on the academiamag.com website.