While education institutions focus on strengthening the retention of information in their students, another crucial skill for personal and professional growth tends to be neglected: Critical thinking. When talking about originality, it is just as important. Just as creativity and originality go hand-in-hand, so do originality and critical thinking. But before we dive any further, it is important to first understand the meaning of this term.
Understanding critical thinking
The first written evidence of critical thinking can be traced back 2500 years ago when Socrates first came up with the importance of analyzing basic concepts and highlighted the significance of asking probing questions. He was soon followed by other philosophers like Plato and Aristotle who further emphasized the need to think systematically and to dig deeper.
In today’s world where information is freely available and easily accessible, it has become even more crucial for us to be able to examine everything objectively so that we can understand the situation and draw an informed conclusion.
It is imperative that we develop the ability to look at the facts and figures and form well-rounded opinions that are not biased or prejudiced but based on facts. Given the deluge of information, we should also be able to discern what is important and what is not and separate the truth from fake news.
“Critical thinking does not refer to intelligence. It is a skill that can and needs to be improved in everybody.”(Walsh & Paul, 1988)
The ability to be able to do the above is what is called critical thinking. It allows us to see past established assumptions, enabling us to look at things from our own perspective.
Critical thinking encourages people to ask questions and not take things at face value. This curiosity facilitates deeper research which can lead to innovation and original thinking.
Why is it important to encourage critical thinking?
Education institutions for the most part have been guilty of encouraging rote learning among their students instead of promoting critical thinking. The focus has usually been on retaining the information given in the books and ensuring that assessments are completed in a manner prescribed by the regulators, with little regard for self-reflection and analysis from the students’ perspective.
But learning and education have changed immensely in recent years. Today, we have access to all the facts and all the information we will ever need at our fingertips! A simple Google search will bring up multiple answers to any question we might have. The need of the hour is not retaining the information but being able to make sense of the information by critically examining it. Being able to create compelling arguments backed by evidence helps students form a balanced view of things. And this is not limited to the classroom alone. Critical thinking is a much-needed skill that will help students in real-life and later at their workplaces as well.
“If students are to function successfully in a highly technical society, then they must be equipped with lifelong learning and thinking skills necessary to acquire and process information in an ever-changing world.”(Susan Robinson 1987)
Teaching students to think critically
Some researchers have rightly pointed out, “One of the aims of education should be developing students’ thinking skills as well as motor skills, which is the basic goal of contemporary approaches in education.”
There are several different ways in which students can be taught how to think critically. Institutions can have specialized courses designed to impart the know-how by creating material and courses for the specific purpose of developing and enhancing one’s critical thinking skills.
The other way is a broader approach where critical thinking can be taught as an integral part of all subjects. This method will help develop the requisite skills across all areas.
What must not be overlooked is that teachers themselves should be equipped with critical thinking abilities in order to impart knowledge. For this, institutions should invest in teacher training programs to ensure their faculty is prepared well.
Critical thinking and originality
In our previous blog on Originality, one of the definitions of originality we came up with was: Originality is the basis for creating something unique through independent and critical thinking.
In other words, originality helps produce ideas that are imaginative and dissimilar. Critical thinking, on the other hand, helps evaluate these ideas in a logical way, enabling us to determine the best possible way to solve a problem or reach a logical conclusion.
Original thinkers often come up with a multitude of ideas. However, it is a person’s critical thinking skills that finally help convert the idea to a workable and original solution.
At Ouriginal, we believe that arming students & teachers with the right tools can help foster an environment of original thinking and enable students to reach their full potential.
Do you want to know more about how Ouriginal can help you and your institution? Contact us today!
We would love to hear your opinion on originality and what you think it means. Discuss the topic with us on Twitter.
In case you’ve missed our first blog on the Originality series, find it here: The truth about Originality.
More blogs on Originality: