Critical thinking is an important quality to cultivate and for many educators, it is the goal of education. Here are a few examples of critical thinking from my own life. First, one of the things I try to do for work is to make good financial investments. For this to take place, you need to analyze everything or think critically. You need to know what is going on in the world (economically speaking), see what things are going to be in demand in the future, and act before others do.
So, I drew up a picture of the world and what I thought would happen and I invested based on my convictions. All of this was borne out of critical thinking. Second, when I think back to my university days, I had to decide on a major. There were so many choices and I decided to go with a major that I not only loved, but also a major that would make me more marketable in the long run. I realized that I could study practically all the things I loved in various departments. Based on this, I chose the department that was most marketable.
Critical thinking entails careful analysis of all the variables (or as many as you can cover) in a situation, using data and logic to process the information and shape the decisions. Other factors may also enter into the mix… As I considered the timing of my retirement from classroom teaching, I reviewed the financial considerations regarding investments, pension and Social Security payments, options for other means of obtaining income, and tried to predict anticipated current and future expenses.
All of this took time and research, but was “easy” in terms of recording figures that could be examined objectively. Harder to quantify but still vital to the analysis were my reflections on how I was approaching the challenges inherent in classroom positions. I evaluated my energy level, commitment to spending the time and effort outside of the classroom, and my enthusiasm for continuing my personal education in the field. I also felt that emotions did play a role in the process and did allow my feelings about continuing to work with middle schoolers enter the process. Bless them, but they are enough to wear anyone out after so long! ) The final piece in my decision-making process was the awareness that my father’s health was declining and that I needed to make myself much more available to assist with transportation, supervision of medical concerns, and general involvement in trying to maintain a quality of life for him that is as good as possible for as long as possible. Is critical thinking fast and easy? NO! Is it important in many real life situations? YES!