Critical thinking – Do it yourself
Critical thinking is judging something based off of analysis and evaluation. Today, most college curriculums are liberal in that students, whether they major in STEM or humanities, has to take classes that require their engagement with material in a deep, intellectual way. Test scores on critical thinking, given to undergraduates, show a positive correlation between critical thinking and GPA, making it seem that a critical mind is an essential asset to have in college.
Most students are not taught critical thinking skills until high school, but the ability to think critically is much like a language or an instrument, you can learn how to do it at any age, but it helps to start at a young age. However, with an education system that continuously puts STEM studies and standardized test prep ahead of teaching students how to analyze and evaluate, it’s almost impossible to expect a student to be able to learn how to engage with material critically in the final years of elementary school or the early years of middle school (grades 5 and 6.).
Luckily, you can teach yourself to develop this type of thinking at any age. Below are three exercises that you can do to teach yourself critical thinking:
- Little Ebert – watch a movie, even a movie you have seen before, ask yourself questions and write them down. Write your thoughts about the movie. Be sure to give yourself a minimum word count, and act as though someone will see it, because you will see it! You do not have to share these writings with anyone. Write about what you liked and did not like.
- Riddle You This – Sites like Riddles.com have riddles and quizzes, and riddles are exercises for the mind. The work you put your mind to when trying to solve the riddles is the important aspect. Don’t get frustrated, stick with it, and maybe you can impress your algebra teacher when you’re a freshman. I assure you, he’s trying to help you!
*tip* – if you do get frustrated, go to the answer. The answer reveals the type of thinking required to solve a riddle of that type, and you can implement the information later.
- Conversion – while writing was already discussed in the first step, you can also try journaling. You can draw, as Andrew Miller of Edutopia observed, visual arts does require the use of interpretation and analysis. It can be a poem. It can be dialogue only. The important thing is that you are processing, using your abilities for visual mental imagery to visualize something and controlling your hand to form lines on paper that represent this mental image.
Ashley was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She is currently studying as an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. She also founded and is one of the editors of a small literature magazine, Baby Lawn Literature.