• Tadiwanashe Zororo

How to improve your critical thinking

If you have ever stayed up late at night thinking about what you could have said in the argument you had that afternoon, I cannot imagine how fast you clicked on this article. Critical thinking is defined by the Oxford dictionary as the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue with the purpose of making a judgement. It involves analysing, reflecting, explaining, problem solving, interpreting, decision-making and evaluating.  Critical thinking is applicable when we need to decide which items to purchase, whether to attend an event or not. It is an intrinsic part of our daily lives.

Before reading this article, just Google “Prince William Perspective Photograph.”


Two people can be at the same match or can witness the same fight, watch the

same movie but their interpretation and conclusion of what took place is going to differ between them. You will know what I mean when you speak to two of your friends who are having a disagreement.


Just looking at the picture of the Duke of Cambridge that you googled, you can see how one person would have come to the conclusion that he was pulling his middle finger at the crowd. Whilst another would have seen that he was clearly showing three fingers to say that he officially has three babies with the duchess.


Critical thinking is as simple as “thinking about thinking.” At all times we have to

be able to make the distinction between what is a fact and what is someone’s

opinion. People’s opinions are modelled around their experiences, what they view as right and wrong, their fears and possibly their ambitions. This is why I always emphasise that your decision to do something should not be based on the fact that someone else is doing it.


To help you overcome manipulation and master the art of directed, corrective and disciplined thinking. I came up with a list of four things you should do to ensure you are critically engaging when you need to make a judgement or a decision.


1.Be respectful

Growing up your parents would have nurtured certain values and perspectives on life to you and your siblings. Often you will find that these will be challenged as the human race progresses. Social media has allowed us to interact with multiple cultures and ideologies from different parts of the globe, that is something we should celebrate.


In interacting with people that look different from you, dress different, speak with a different accent, live according to different values, you have to be willing to sit down and learn. Sitting down and having a conversation with someone who does not think like you does not mean you have to accept how they view life and suddenly take up the same manner of living. It means you want to educate yourself, understand why they view things the way they do and in the end have respect out of the understanding that you have gained.


There is no reason why you who are rooted in certain beliefs cannot sit down and have a conversation with people who might not have any beliefs at all concerning the matter at hand and just getting to understand what has lead them to their conclusions. If you can take time to listen to someone’s story, you can get them to listen to yours. There will never be a point in time when everyone will agree but what we have to be willing to do is to inherit empathy.


2. Ask questions and get your own facts straight

You need to be able to think for yourself. Just because the person standing beforeyou has a doctorate in the matter of concern, it does not make their judgement correct. Just because someone sees things different from the way you do, it does not make them wrong.


The sky is blue. That is something we can all accept, it is evident that the sky is blue. Banana peels can be used to make your teeth white. That is something you would not accept so easily. The secret really is to gather your own research. By taking the time to read multiple materials concerning that piece of information, this will allow you to recognize a trend. Recognize why different people would have come to the conclusion that bananas could give you a breathe-taking smile. Establish what the person who came to such a conclusion intents to achieve by selling this idea. Is it because they want to prove a theory or are they trying to sell a product? By answering that question you can determine how correct their information is.


Stop accepting things because you have been told to do so. Exercise this

respectfully. Always ask why until you can no longer do so.


3. Be patient

Mastering critical thinking will take time. Ideologies will continue to revolutionize. Just take it a day at a time.


Study your thinking patterns and see where you can improve. Do not be quick to make assumptions. You too would appreciate it if people took the time to learn about you. Someone older than you may be wiser than you simply because they have experienced life’s lows and highs for longer than you have. However, that does not mean the knowledge they possess is correct or that it is the only way of doing things.


Challenge yourself to have those uncomfortable conversations and be willing

to learn new things. Sometimes you will forget that you made the commitment to think critically about everything, but that is okay. 


Critical thinking is a skill that will progress with practice.


4. Concerning making daily decisions

These include whether to purchase a certain item, whether to go to an event or take up a certain position. We are going to draw a mind map:


· Write down your question in the middle of a piece of paper: “Should I apply for the position of secretary on the Investment Society?”


· Your mind-map should branch out into the following heading:

Advantages

1. If I serve on a student society in university I can include the experience in my work resumé

2. I get to interact with a diverse group of people on this platform

3. I have past experience for this position from serving on the prefect body in high school


Disadvantages

1. It will take away some of my study time

2. I will have to walk at late hours from campus


People in my life that are affected and how that makes me feel

1. I could possibly have to cut down time to hang out with friends if my study time is insufficient as a result of meetings BUT my friends will understand because this is something I am passionate about, I can always “hang out” when time allows.


Personal challenges

1. I cannot type fast, I might struggle keeping up with the meeting and miss important things for the minutes

2. I might not be able to contribute as much as I want to if I am busy with the minutes during meetings


After going through each of these tiers, you should be able to make a decision about whether to take up a task.

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