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Boost Your Critical Thinking Skills

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Thinking clearly, deeply, and productively is an essential skill, but research indicates that it is increasingly becoming endangered. Young people, especially, find themselves trapped in practical or survival thinking due to the pandemic's impact.


In an era of information overload, rapid technological advancements, and complex global challenges, the ability to think critically has never been more crucial, and yet we have become so reliant on technology, tons of reports are coming out that critical thinking skills are at an all-time low.


Concerning Statistics

A 2018 study conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Education found that the majority of middle school, high school, and college students struggled to discern between credible and unreliable sources online.


Another study published in the journal Thinking Skills and Creativity in 2019 revealed that many college graduates lacked critical thinking skills necessary for problem-solving and decision-making in the workplace.


Additionally, a survey by the American Association of Colleges and Universities indicated that employers consistently identified critical thinking as a crucial skill lacking in job applicants.

These findings suggest that critical thinking skills are not being adequately developed or prioritized in our educational systems and have real-world implications in terms of decision-making, problem-solving, and the ability to navigate an increasingly complex and information-driven society.


I am working to find more current, post-Covid studies, however, the pandemic's impact has clearly presented numerous challenges for education worldwide, potentially contributing to an even further decreased emphasis on teaching critical thinking skills. The sudden shift to remote or hybrid learning models necessitated quick adaptations and focused on ensuring basic academic continuity rather than deeper skill development. Teachers faced difficulties in maintaining student engagement and addressing individual needs in a virtual setting, which may have limited opportunities for fostering critical thinking. As a result, our children have lost years of critical thinking skills development because they were more focused on finding practical solutions to immediate challenges rather than engaging in analytical and evaluative thinking.


Here are some simple strategies to encourage critical thinking development:

#1 - Recognize the urgency trap:


Avoid rushing decision-making under the pressure of multiple demands. Develop self-awareness and learn to pause or take breaks before making choices.


#2 - Engage in reflective thinking:


Take time to reflect on your thoughts, experiences, and biases. Reflective thinking fosters self-awareness, enables considering different perspectives, and evaluating your reasoning.


#3 - Master active listening and effective communication:


Practice active listening to understand others' viewpoints and engage in constructive and logical expression of your thoughts. This fosters productive discussions and debates.


#4 - Practice self-compassion:


Deep thinking is not easy in a world filled with distractions. Develop regular meditation or exercise practices to manage stress. Remember that deep thinking requires nurturing yourself and taking time to slow down. Find time each day to remove distractions and daydream. Use you imagination to just let you mind wander.


#5 - Solve problems systematically:


Break down complex problems into smaller components, identify underlying issues, and consider multiple solutions. Utilize problem-solving techniques like brainstorming, evaluating alternatives, and anticipating consequences.


#6 - Embrace curiosity and lifelong learning:


Cultivate an interest-driven mindset and thirst for knowledge. Be open to new ideas, seek diverse perspectives, and continuously expand your understanding through reading, research, and learning from others. In a world where we are so quick to hear information and believe it to be true, practice finding multiple sources for this information, do some good old cross referencing and if you have children teach this skill to them, too. Also, as I said above, seek to read and research different perspectives so you have a full picture.


#7 - Engage in critical thinking exercises:


Challenge your reasoning abilities by solving puzzles, riddles, or logical problems. Participate in debates, analyze case studies, or attend critical thinking workshops or courses to sharpen your skills.

By implementing these strategies, you can enhance your critical thinking skills and overcome the practical or survival thinking mindset.


Boosting your ability to think deeply will empower you personally and professionally, leading to better outcomes and a more fulfilling life.


More Reading/Resources:


12 Critical Thinking Activities for Kids


7 Ways to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

(adult/college student version)


The Emerging Crisis in Critical Thinking


A Lack Of Rigor Leaves Students 'Adrift' In College


Through personalized coaching sessions, I provide guidance, support, and strategies to enhance the ability to analyze information, think independently, and make informed decisions. Whether you or your child are looking to excel academically, improve problem-solving abilities, or enhance decision-making skills, I am here to help. Together, we will explore techniques tailored to your unique needs, fostering a mindset of curiosity, open-mindedness, and analytical thinking.


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