“Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.”
Hendrik Van Loon
Since I have completed the doctoral program, I have fully embraced the critical thinking concept and the variety of ways to apply it. I wish I had been introduced to this early in my life. For example, when I decided to attend college there were many decisions that needed to be made regarding my future.
After completing my bachelor’s degree, I went on and completed an MBA program as well. I was torn between law school and a doctorate in organization management. So I had to ask myself many questions before I made a decision. The critical thinking process could be involved, depending on the critical nature of the results. Activities that are associated with critical thinking are: examining, analyzing, planning, evaluating, and researching.
Thinking is essential to many organizations, but over time we don’t exercise our thinking capabilities. Critical thinking could be executed at several levels for you to develop results. There are three levels that we think at before we become masterful at critical thinking (first level, second level, and third level).
Over time the three levels of critical thinking became apparent to me, especially when I began to lecture at colleges and universities. We live in an era where individuals don’t exercise their critical thinking skills and are not exposed to activities that will allow them to be effective thinkers.
What you will discover is most people are First level thinkers, meaning that they don’t take the time to examine their initial thoughts. They identify, draw some assumptions, and identify the obvious. For example, when my students view the PowerPoint slide, they share their thoughts on what they see and normally describe with nouns (bus, car, plane, etc). If they see a bus, individuals will state the obvious and don’t go further and explain how the bus contributes to the picture. This is indicative of how individuals have been taught to learn and think; there is minimal exercising of the mind. Critical thinking is an art not a science, so it requires practice just like anything else.
Staying with the example of the bus; the description of the bus is reserved for what I consider the Second level thinker, or the individual who has gained knowledge about the picture after more thought. Critical thinkers at this level assess the pictures for clarity, relevance, depth, and accuracy. The second level thinker dedicates more time to examine the picture and describe what the bus may be doing (Going up a hill, it is a big bus, the color of the bus, etc). These individuals are more comfortable and are more descriptive with their observations. The next level of thinking is the third level thinker.
A Third level thinker has dedicated more time synthesizing the information and gaining understanding. The third level thinker goes beyond description and provides the dynamic of the pictures. For example, the bus in the picture is going to Central Park to pick up individuals. At this stage the individual can infer from the picture the potential possibilities. It is a combination of creativity and logical reasoning that cultivates an effective critical thinker. Individuals raise vital questions and problems to formulate a response while gathering and assessing information. They are able to resolve complex questions and resolve issues.
Critical thinking could be viewed as the ultimate exploitation of information. Developing critical thinking skills will definitely give you the ability to genuinely think both clearly and critically. Furthermore, it also will help individual’s clearly present information to support their conclusions and avoid reinforcing biases.
What Influences Your Ability to Think?
Information influences our ability to think about a situation. Naturally it depends on the level of expectation that drives the level of examination for the results we seek. An individual receives information in three primary ways: by listening, observing, and reading. Upon receiving new information in the three primary ways, we can respond or we can react. Your level of thinking about a situation will determine which one you choose. Both good and bad people end up in adverse situations but better understanding of the situation contributes to a favorable response that normally would contribute to synergistic results.
It is never a simple process to understand why each team member makes a decision, but it is important to understand the factors that contribute to a team member’s ability to critically think through a situation.
Dr. Roy Pinder
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