Exercises to Improve Critical Thinking Skills

It is every freelance writer’s prerogative to take a stance as a critical thinker. Academics and scholars do it all the time. Many of the powerful, positive transitions around the globe since the beginning of history have come into being because of new skills learned and employed by critical thinkers.

According to Dan Kurland on criticalthinking.com, “critical thinking includes a complex combination of skills.”

In other words, critical thinking is not just a skill in itself. It is always possible to improve critical thinking skills. It is also possible for almost anyone to learn new skills with time, effort and the sincere desire to do so.

Critical thinkers have three things in common, according to Kurland. They are “skeptical”, “active” and “open” to new ideas.

Based upon these three concepts, there are exercises anyone can do in order to improve his or her critical thinking skills. 

Be skeptical:

To be skeptical does not necessarily mean to assume as stance of radical, destructive thinking. Being skeptical is not necessarily being critical in a negative or adverse manner, either. Rather, it entails truth seeking that discerns the scope and reality of that which lies under scrutiny and is thus subject to inquiry.

Criticism of anything can take on a much broader approach, when a critical thinker looks at it from every possible direction. Examining things further and in more depth frequently sheds new light on them. For example, evolution reveals continual change in one direction, while de-evolution allows its possibility in another direction. No judgment is required, but rather, ongoing inquiry is essential to discern the truth.

Be active:

Being active, as opposed to being non-active, allows room for continual progression of thought, with all of its further implications. Taking and maintaining a passive stand, instead of one that is active or even pro-active, leads nowhere and does not acknowledge thought processes within the scope of their full light. The active mind continues to grow, which leads to new skill development, whereas otherwise, it tends to lie dormant. Active thought has room for past, present and even future thought development. New skills can stand upon a base formed by earlier skills.  

Be open:

Being open to new ideas enables a potential critical thinker to prioritize and place his or her thought processes in a wide variety of formats that can result in the formation of new concepts, enabling even more skill development in the future.

Being skeptical, active and open, addresses many of the concerns associated with closed minds. Note that closed minds may be skeptical and active, in a negative or adverse manner while being open in one’s thought processes, either as a freelancer, scholar or academic, opens the full realm of possibility.