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Keys to Developing Critical Thinking, a 21st-Century Skill

Since the times of influential Greek philosophers like Plato and Socrates, critical thinking has been a popular topic.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano

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If you are wondering what it means, it translates into the ability to think clearly and rationally and to understand logical connections between ideas. 

The truth is critical thinking is a useful tool for any profession or occupation. It gives you the ability to analyze situations with objectivity, getting rid of your biases, and improving your capacity to envision situations from different perspectives. Regardless of whether you aim to solve a problem, better develop an idea, or analyze why something didn't turn out as expected, critical thinking can help you.

If you are now wondering how to think critically, you must know that there isn’t a step-by-step guide. However, The Woman Post gives you important advice on some exercises that can help be you practice your critical thinking:

1. Understand your biases and work to eliminate them

All of us have several cognitive biases that constantly get in our way to shape how we think. The first step to challenge them is to identify them. For instance, if you know you constantly have confirmation biases, search for evidence that contradicts your assumption.

2. Express yourself in creative ways

We all have unique ways of learning and thinking. Some of us are more inclined towards visual aids, while others prefer auditory or kinesthetic learning. If you want to expand your thinking,  be sure to practice expressing yourself in different mediums. For example, try to use diagrams to visualize problems you have been talking about. 

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3. Practice solving hypothetical ethical dilemmas

Since real ethical dilemmas can be too much, hypothetical ones can always help you work on your critical thinking skills. Various brain-teasers can help you to practice finding creative solutions to your problems.

4. Talk to a 6-year-old

The objective of this exercise is to learn to explain concepts in simplified terms. If you picture yourself trying to explain something to a 6-year-old, you may be surprised by discovering elements that you didn’t understand as much as you thought you did.

5. Request other people to explain their thought processes

If you ask other people about your problems and listen carefully to their perspectives, you can be enlightened by their thought processes. This exercise is useful to ameliorate and expand your thought processes.

6. Surround yourself with critical thinkers

This habit can widen your perspective by constantly exposing you to different opinions and sources of knowledge. At the same time, it can boost your creativity and improve your critical thinking skills.

Now that you are familiar with some exercises that improve your critical thinking, it is worth mentioning some of the benefits that come along with working on that skill. First of all, it is useful no matter the subject area you work on since it is an asset for any career. It also betters your language and presentation skills, since it helps you to express your ideas more appropriately. It boosts creativity since it allows you to evaluate new ideas and select the best tones. It is even helpful for self-reflection because it can help you organize priorities and reflect on your decisions. Finally, scientists agree that critical thinking can also improve your academic performance since it helps you analyze ideas and make connections with several disciplines.