How to think critically


Photo of an ape thinking

It’s only natural to associate the word critical with negative connotations. I mean, negative is in fact a synonym of critical. But critical thinking is a whole other story – and not negative at all, I promise!

In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Critical thinking is thoughtfully reasoned consideration.  Thinking critically about topics can help you become a more thoughtful, informed, and better person. Oh, and it’s also important for your university work, too.

You will need to think critically when reading, note taking, doing assignments, preparing for exams, organising your time, and attending lectures and tutorials.

To find out how to develop critical thinking skills, have a read of Critical Thinking Skills for Dummies by Martin Cohen (2015). In chapter one, he provides a list of the qualities that make a critical thinker:

  • Tolerance: Critical Thinkers delight in hearing divergent views, and enjoy a real debate.
  • Analytical skills: Critical Thinkers don’t accept just any kind of talking. They want properly constructed arguments that present reasons and draw sound conclusions.
  • Confidence: Critical Thinkers have to be a little bit confident to be able to examine views that others present — often people in authority.
  • Curiosity: Critical Thinkers need curiosity. It may have killed the cat, but curiosity is the essential ingredient for ideas and insights.
  • Truth-seeking: Critical Thinkers are on mission ‘objective truth’ — even if it turns out to undermine their own previously held convictions and long-cherished beliefs and is flat against their self-interest.

Feel like practicing? Try applying the above to some of the information you see shared on Facebook, and play ‘Spot the Fake News’!