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The Importance of Developing Critical Thinking Skills

We live in a society where we are constantly being bombarded with advertising and subliminal messages; so much so, that we are somewhat immune to the fact that these signals are overtly trying to influence our thoughts and behaviours.

Let’s look at an average day for evidence of this:

It’s breakfast time and we reach for the cereal box. We purchased this brand because our kids pined in the supermarket over the rainbow coloured packaging with the smiling animals on the front (and we approved due to the bold ‘high in calcium’ label). We didn’t bother to check the ingredients list and notice the ridiculously high sugar and E-number content.

We then jump into the car and switch on the radio to distract the kids from squabbling in the back. We drive past rows of luminous gigantic billboards and signs, laden with models draped in the latest trends. Our ears and eyes are blasted with commercials telling us to go here, buy this, and try that… The toddler is already singing the catchy song from the shampoo advert.

Whilst munching a sandwich (which we bought with a special offer coupon) on our lunch break, we scroll mindlessly through Facebook and Instagram. Our walls are flooded with more memes and posts telling us how to think and feel about the world (often centred on fake news), along with more sponsored photos of models insinuating what we must buy in order to be as successful as them. We receive a text from the teenager saying they will be home late tonight as they are going to a new event opening which they were just given a flyer about.

There’s no need for me to continue on past midday, you get the idea!

As much as we would all like to say that we can outsmart this persuasion, that would be fictitious. I can certainly, even as a conscious adult, recall a handful of recent decisions that have been made as a result of commercial or sponsored influence. For young people, however, this insidious coercion can be truly dangerous. Why? Because kids are innocent and aren’t expecting the world to be trying to take advantage of them. Children and teenagers haven’t yet experienced the hunger of needing to make money, and therefore don’t understand the lengths that some people will go to do this. They don’t tend to have their guard up and are more likely to blindly trust the media.

Here is where being able to think critically comes in to save the day!

Critical thinking is “reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do”. Even simpler, it is “thinking about thinking”, in that it regulates a person’s ability to process information in a logical manner. Critical thinking is a skill which should be taught to young people to protect them from advertising, but will also be advantageous for the rest of their adult careers.

Critical Thinking For Self-Actualization

Someone with critical thinking skills can judge what pieces of information are important and discard data that is not useful to them. They can weigh various facts and points of view, and identify logical errors. Critical thinking brings about a clarity of perception that makes a person capable of re-appraising their own core values, opinions and calculations. With critical thinking, therefore, a person can continually reach new planes of self-improvement and self-actualization. Kids and teenagers are only just discovering who they are, which makes developing this skill at a younger age even more essential.

Critical Thinking For A Successful Career

Critical thinking forges people into rational and effective problem solvers, which is valuable throughout our entire lives. When you give young people critical thinking skills, they will be able to find the necessary information for themselves; they will be able to evaluate the merits and consequences of that information, and they will be able to utilize that information to solve any problems at hand. On this note, critical thinking is a key to career success. There are many professions where critical thinking is an absolute necessity. Lawyers, Analysts, Accountants, Doctors, Engineers, Reporters, and Scientists of all kinds, must apply critical thinking frequently.

Critical Thinking For Independence

Critical thinking creates self-motivated and confident learners. A person with critical thinking skills is capable of upgrading their own knowledge and can easily engage in independent self-learning. They can find connections between diverse streams and pieces of knowledge and can assess the value of the information they acquire.

So, how is the ability to think critically learnt? There are a variety of methods but the most effective activities to develop these skills are; solving puzzles and riddles, improving empathy and emotional intelligence, examining controversial issues from multiple different perspectives and debating. Critical thinking is a core element of our Starworks course taught here at Prepworks. We focus on teaching this skill in a combination of fun and challenging formats, to facilitate all individual’s learning styles. We hope that your kids can join us in the classroom. Here they will take their first step to becoming more independent, life-long thinkers who can continually self-improve and flourish into successful working adults.