Monday, January 25, 2016

What is Critical Thinking?

The New York Times article "Bosses Seek 'Critical Thinking' but what is that?" mentions that employers find critical thinking to be a valuable skill, but have a hard time defining what the term means.

Does it mean you should think inside the box? Outside the box? Break the rules? Bend the rules?

Job seekers complain that "critical thinking" is often listed as a requirement in a job posting, but they have no idea what the phrase means until they arrive at a job interview and discover that it sometimes means "forming your own opinion from a variety of sources" or even analyzing data with some kind of rubric.

Some bosses believe it is the ability to deal with problems found in the business world or to "accumulate data, analyze data, and synthesize it to make a balanced decision." That seems to reflect a belief in wanting problem-solving skills.

Most bosses say college graduates don't have critical thinking skills. They can regurgitate information, but they can't apply that information or training to solve problems.

But some psychologists say that idea--applying principles to problems--creates people who tend to challenge the status quo and bosses aren't necessarily looking for that.

So what is your definition of critical thinking? Can you come up with a definition that blends ideals for both academia and the professional world?