Research and Practice
Defining Critical Thinking
The Research and Practice course for my MA requires me to write a series of blog posts on research. One of the first posts is to define and discuss my ideas on critical thinking. I find it easiest to start by breaking apart a definition to understand or explain a concept. The definition of critical thinking as defined by the English Oxford Living Dictionaries (2018) 'The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement'.
What I find interesting about this definition is the notion that one can be wholly objective. Objectivity is defined by the English Oxford Living Dictionaries (2018) as '(Of a person or their judgement) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts'. To be completely objective is difficult, and I think almost impossible. We all have personal feelings and opinions that sway us in different and often subtle ways. I believe that anyone can utilize critical thinking, however, one must realize that complete objectivity is difficult and that our biases will appear. The rest of the definition I quite agree with. A detailed look at something to gauge the validity of a topic or issue. Then coming up with a conclusion based on this process, something I find quite enjoyable.
The other caveat I have about critical thinking is people's emphasis on the critical component of the process. Which is often seen as a negative approach to the process. This is a misnomer, critical thinking does not have to be negative it can also be positive or reaffirming. The end goal of the process of critical thinking is enlightenment, a re-envisioning or affirmation of previous thoughts or ideas.
Critical Thinking In The Age Of AI and Fake News
Critical thinking is also an essential skill to be taught, as it is a skill that will help shield future generations. The rise of automated and artificial intelligence systems within the workplace will radically change the face of the work world as Aoun (2017) believes 'critical thinking and system thinking are crucial for human employees of the future it is imperative that we instill them through the education system of the present'.
The trend in the business world is to replace occupations with a technology solution. The Industrial Revolution of the past is an example of this trend, exemplified in Henry Ford’s ever-evolving assembly line, Oschinski and Wyonch, (2017 p.1) believe that:
Occupations high in abstract, complex-decision-making skills with a strong focus on creativity, critical thinking and interpersonal social skills have a relatively low risk of being automated. An increase in demand for these skills is likely over the near and medium term. As the rate of technological progress increases and digitization permeates different occupations and industries, technical job-specific skills might become obsolete relatively quickly. This indicates a need to increase opportunities for continuous education and lifelong learning.
Is critical creative thinking a boon for future generations, most likely. Is it something that should have always been taught in schools and encouraged at home, yes. Future implications and debates about definitions aside, critical creative thinking challenges people to think. To not take things at face value, to question authority and to become a more enlightened human being. I would say that this notion is at the heart of many of our religious and philosophical movements and one of our greatest political inventions, democracy. So in this age of sound bites and fake news what better skill to nurture.
Aoun, Joseph (2017) In an age of machines, critical thinking gives people the edge. [Online] Medium | CXO Magazine. Available at: https://medium.com/cxo-magazine/in-an-age-of-machines-critical-thinking-gives-people-the-edge-e2b80d0ff439 [Accessed March 31, 2018].
English Oxford Living Dictionaries (2018) Definition of critical thinking in English. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/critical_thinking . [Accessed April 2, 2018].
English Oxford Living Dictionaries (2018) Definition of objective in English. Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/objective . [Accessed April 2, 2018].
Machinski, J. (2018) research & practice Some Thoughts on Critical Thinking. April 2018. Unpublished.
Oschinski and Wyonch (2017) Future Shock? The Impact of Automation on Canada’s Labour Market. [Online] Toronto: C.D. HOWE Institute, p. 3. Available at: https://www.cdhowe.org/sites/default/files/attachments/research_papers/mixed/Update_Commentary%20472%20web.pdf [Accessed March 31, 2018].