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Teachers and counselors actually use critical thinking on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, as we assess how well our lessons or opportunities for conflict-resolution are working, and what we can do to make them more effective. Critical thinking can also be called problem solving when it comes to actual application in a given situation.
As a counselor and teacher at a residential camp for juvenile delinquent boys, I experienced a time when it seemed my group was developing a habit of creating problems with one another right before bed. Everyone in the program warned against such a "night culture" and did everything possible to make the bedtime routine as stressless as possible. I went one step further with my group. Instead of stopping everything (right before bed) to work out the problem (risking the loss of more sleep and heightening tension in the entire group), I did my best to appease the situation for the night, but began having the problem first thing the very next morning. My kids usually woke up with a positive outlook for success on the day, so for one thing, their attitudes were better about getting to the heart of their anger or "issue." The other thing working in my favor first thing in the morning, was breakfast. I didn't let them eat until they fully got to the bottom of the problem from the night before.
As long as the night problems kept up, I doubled the "morning problem" the next day. As a result, my group went nearly two weeks without making breakfast on time, which meant we had to eat outside, rather than in the dining room with the rest of the camp. These two weeks were all we needed to eliminate night problems for the rest of the 9 or 10 months I worked with that group. When kids started getting annoyed at one another at night, I started to hear from other kids, "Hey man, chill out, we'll deal with it tomorrow. And if you make it a big deal tonight, we'll miss breakfast again."
Very quickly, my group began solving their problems without the necessary time consequences, and applied the idea of deciding (before they got angry) what was more important: the immediate anger, or something like missing breakfast the next day.
In my second year teaching high school (small school, senior class of about 50 people), I had to decide whether to pass a student who was failing my class and allow him to walk at graduation. He was failing my class because he had not done the bulk of his work in the last semester. A couple weeks before the end of school, I gave him all of the work that he had missed and told him he needed to make it up. By the day before graduation, he had done very little and I told him I would not give him a passing grade. He wanted me to stay late with him so he could finish the work after school. His mother (relatively important in the town) insisted that I should let him walk.
At this point, I had to think critically. i had to decide what was important in the case of this student. I had to decide what was more important -- letting him participate in his graduation or making the point to him that he could not simply ignore his responsibilities and assume that people would let him slide. I decided not to let him walk at graduation. I decided that my job was to do what was in the long term interest of the student rather than what was in his short term interest. I had to think critically -- I had to decide what my priorities were and how best to achieve them. Of course, I will never know if I did the right thing...
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!
To me critical thinking is really just identifying the issue, analyzing the issue and establishing a plan of attack to resolve if necessary. When I decided to change careers I needed to identify why I wanted to change and whether I would be able to find a job and would I be able to support myself on a different salary. I moved from being an attorney to a teacher. I found myself always stressed, sick, tired, and really anti-social when I was an attorney. I decided that my true love was really history and that I wanted to teach. I analyzed all the possible paths to becoming a teacher since I only had a BA in History and then determined the cost, the length of time it would take and when the first available time was I could be employable. This was a tedious process and took much review and thought, but I now love my job and look forward to going to work every day.
I find that I am able to think of times when I did not use critical thinking skills in my life. Many things in my life could have been simpler if I only had taken the time to use proper thought and analysis. I guess the best critical thinking example I have is my investment strategies – how much money can I put back, is it enough to reach my retirement goals, what types of investments am I going to make – safe, risky, high-return, etc. Having one child in college, one beginning high school and a husband who is going back to school for a career change I had to analyze what my needs were going to be now and in the future. It took a lot of time and study and consultation with people proficient in investments but I rest easier now that I have a plan.
Much like the purchase of a home, the purchase of a car involves some critical thinking, as well. As opposed to impulse buying, a critical analysis of one's needs, one's desires, and one's financial resources is necessary in the purchase of an automobile. Determining if one can afford the vehicle is paramount. Weighing the purchase of the vehicle against other needed items is one factor that needs to be considered. Then, determining if the vehicle is appropriate to one's needs is essential; such things as size, cargo space, gas mileage, reliability, future expenses such as tire costs, etc. must be considered.
I would think that critical thinking is part of most people's every day lives. When I was deciding which college to attend, I had to consider the pros and cons of each school to which I was accepted. From critically comparing and analyzing what I wanted with what each school offered (including, but not limited to, cost, offers of scholarships and aide, distance from home, programs of interest to me, restrictions on freshmen, sports, etc.) and came to a final decision.
The same is true for the process I went through to choose where I would teach overseas. I found that the majority of schools offering excellent pay were in Asia and the Middle East. I knew I didn't want to be in a burka or forced to follow the restrictive cultural environment for women in the Middle East, so that left Asia. There are lots of countries in Asia, so again, I went through a process of elimination and comparison to finally decide on South Korea. Then, again, I had to apply to the schools with openings and from there go through the whole process again with the schools who offered me the position.
On a smaller, but not less important scale, as a teacher, I often have more than one section of the same class (honors seniors or traditional sophomores, for instance). If something didn't work well in the first class of the day, I had to access the weakness or what didn't work and change it before the next class came in...you think on your feet, tweak the lesson plan, and make note of the change for the next class/year.
I'm sure it's not that different for bankers and the decisions they make daily-- businessmen, translators, police officers, etc.
Teaching of course is a profession that opens itself up to every-second examples of critical thinking. The way in which we teach and how we respond to different pupils with their different situations is of course absolutely vital to our success as teachers. Often, as #4 makes clear, we have to "play detective" to work out what is the real reason behind bad behaviour or poor performance, for example. I am trying to engage in this process now when a student has dropped in their grades for no reason.
Critical thinking is something you are thinking negatively about the past bad situations or experiences.Your mind is always dark no peace,but always dangerous.Sometimes it happens this to us because of we have problems,hatred at somebody,and also to our self..But nothing to get good benefits..it is better you are always postive even though problems is coming out and in,but we should be positve to think...
Well--as an American taking a Master degree through a British (online distance learning) program, I had strenuously apply the skills of critical thinking while trying to learn the British method for academic paper writing, which is significantly different from the more casual American approach to academic paper writing. So while my example isn't "related to school" it is relevant to school because I had to master the application of critical thinking to writing in a way I'd never been exposed to before.
I look at critically thinking as part of the process of breaking things down into manageable parts. Many times, the things which need to be critically analyzed are things which concern us given its complexity. Therefore, in order to manage the whole one must think critically about it.
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