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Are you a critical thinker? This lesson looks at the qualities necessary for critical thinking and why this is useful for developing a better understanding of the world around you.

What Made You Press Play?

What brought you to watch this lesson today? Perhaps you’re studying for an exam, aiming to fill a requirement, or even just curious about the topic.

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Whatever the reason, you’re currently on the path to developing greater critical-thinking skills. This lesson discusses what it means to be a critical thinker and what qualities are associated with this approach.

Critical Thinking

Have you ever had a small child ask you questions you found hard to answer? They’re notorious for asking ‘Why?’ questions that adults can find hard to address to the child’s satisfaction. Young kids tend to be curious about the world around them, wanting to investigate every aspect of what they see and hear. This is part of the process of learning to live in their environment.

Curiosity can help a person to grow and learn.In philosophy, curiosity is one quality that contributes to critical-thinking skills. Critical thinking is making informed decisions based on logic.

A main aim of thinking critically is to pursue knowledge.Critical thinking might sound like it’s not much fun, but in reality, a person uses a lot of creativity when they think logically. Consider how many ideas are sparked in your own mind when you watch these video lessons and try to relate them to your own life. You use a lot of energy to consider the new information and to process what it means in your world. These new ideas can involve imagining a world outside of what you have known. Both curiosity and creativity play an important role in critical thinking.

Being Analytical

As you probably know from your experience online, you’ll find a great deal of misinformation if you do not think critically about what you are reading or watching.

In order to distinguish between fact and fiction, you have to be analytical. This means that you use logic and reasoning to understand complex problems by breaking them down into smaller problems.Think of analyzing a problem as a bit like putting a puzzle together. You need to take it step by step to get to the whole picture. If the puzzle is one of the Statue of Liberty, for instance, you might choose to start with her crown and then move down to her face.

You could also choose to start with the corners and then move into the sides of the puzzle. Breaking things down in this way when you are looking at ideas involves looking at each component of the idea carefully to help you draw a conclusion.You may have heard one person say to another, ‘You’re over-analyzing the situation.’ Being analytical has sometimes come to mean that a person is thinking more deeply about a topic than is necessary. For instance, you might witness this if you have a friend who’s breaking down a conversation they had with a person they want to date to try to guess if the person likes them.

However, being analytical can be very beneficial to a person pursuing greater knowledge when used in the right circumstances. An analytical approach helps you break down difficult topics into more manageable components, like starting with the Statue of Liberty’s crown and moving on to other parts as you put together a 5,000-piece puzzle.

Being Self-Aware

When you watch these educational lessons online, they’re presented and reviewed by people with expertise.

However, you can still take an analytical approach and weigh this new information against your own experience and logic. You are an important factor in the analytical process because you, too, have a lot of knowledge based on your own life experiences, education, and perceptions.Yet relying only on your own perceptions could mean you miss out on important concepts that could help you grow in your understanding. If you’re willing to consider information that goes beyond your own experience and education, you are being open-minded. A critical thinker is able to question some of their own conclusions and weigh the value of new ideas. It’s a bit like allowing an idea into your brain, considering it, and then deciding if it’s worth keeping on hand. In this way, you look beyond the habits of thinking in day-to-day life.

This doesn’t mean you have to abandon previous beliefs automatically simply because science hasn’t proven them. It does mean that you aim for self-awareness, or the capacity to acknowledge your own ways of thinking and compare them to other ways of thinking.In philosophy and other areas of life, a critical thinker will use logic to argue their case.

A self-aware person is not simply out to prove others wrong, but also to learn from other points of view and new evidence. The goal is not just winning an argument for the sake of winning but to pursue greater knowledge and understanding.

Lesson Summary

Critical thinking is making informed decisions based on logic.

A main aim of thinking critically is to pursue knowledge. When you think critically, you need to be analytical in your approach and use logic and reasoning to understand complex problems by breaking them down into smaller problems.A critical thinker is able to question some of their own conclusions and stay open-minded to new ideas. In this way, you look beyond the habits of thinking in day-to-day life.

You also aim for self-awareness, the capacity to acknowledge your own ways of thinking and compare them to other ways of thinking.

Learning Outcome

After watching this lesson, you should be able to understand what it means to be a critical thinker, analytical and self-aware and the important qualities that are associated with these ideas.

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