#TLS – Musing about Thinking-1

Why Thinking Skills = To Solve a Problem or to Take a Decision (or even to think of a new Problem!)

Thinking = Being aware of, and challenging our inherent Assumptions / Perceptions + Figuring out Alternatives + Weighing Alternatives + Choosing Optimal Alternative

Being Aware of, and Challenging Assumptions/Perceptions + Finding Alternatives = Creative Thinking

Weighing Alternatives (i.e. analysis, judgment etc) = Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking skills, I think, can be viewed from three perspectives.

First is the Logical Reasoning type of Critical Thinking, which is often a part of school curriculum on which students are tested. This skill is also useful for solving puzzles and riddles.

Example: There is a river. There are four men who want to cross it. They see a boy and a girl playing in a rowboat. The boat can hold either two children or one adult. Can the men cross the river? How?

Second type of Critical Thinking skills go beyond logical reasoning and cover analysis and argumentation.

Cambridge and Oxford Universities test candidates on this type of critical thinking skills – what is the key assumption in an argument, is it a fallacious argument, identify the counter argument and such like. (Cambridge Thinking Skills Assessment Test info is here: http://www.admissionstests.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/adt/tsacambridge).

Several entrance exams test candidates on similar Critical Thinking skills and in UK there is an AS and A-level course on Critical Thinking Skills, which also covers similar topics. (http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/subjects/critical_thinking/index.aspx)

‘Thinking Skills’ by John Butterworth and Geoff Thwaites is a good book to prepare for such exams.

Open University UK (http://openlearn.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=1644&topic=all)and Hong Kong University (http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/) offer free online courses on this type of Critical Thinking skills.

The third type of critical thinking skills (or an important area of application of critical thinking skills), in my opinion, is ‘the journey within’. That is, Understanding self, understanding emotions, understanding relationships…

In their book, ‘Art of Happiness’, Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler note that, “Happiness has little to do with absolute conditions, rather it is a function of how we perceive our situation”, and, “Our mind is the only equipment we need to achieve complete happiness.”

Parts of the book ‘Developing Critical Thinkers’ by Stephen D. Brookfield make interesting reading for this aspect or application of critical thinking skills. Rest, of course, is introspection!

Next, musings on Creative Thinking.

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