Critical thinking is the process of making cognitive choices from the many situations and things that life offers. Critical thinking is also the art of going against the crowd and questioning what we perceive in finding the truth. It is an active process of examining different situations without bias, evaluating the consequences of a decision, and, finally, making a rationale conclusion.
Critical thinkers have different qualities that distinguish them among non-critical thinkers. The ability to reason out is one of the crucial abilities that critical thinkers have because this enables the development of appropriate attitudes and habits. While non-critical thinkers think that they are the best, critical thinkers have open minds that allow other people give an opinion for evaluation. As indicated earlier, such thinkers also consider the facts leading to evidence instead of just accepting things as presented by nature or other people. In case of a change, a critical thinker analytically considers the effects of change. This reflects the organization of such critical thinkers as opposed to non-critical thinkers who indulge in activities which lead to regrets and unforeseen problems. For all this qualities to be built, a critical thinker usually develops self-confidence, which subsequently creates intimate relation with other people in sharing of ideas. Additionally, critical thinkers understand themselves, thus giving an opportunity to settle and develop different values reflective of maturity and wisdom (Ellis, 1997).
There is a close relationship between critical thinking and life-long learning skills. Learning is a process of acquiring knowledge of new things. Similarly, critical thinking tries to open up new perception and ideas from the normal life. Both learning and critical thinking require understanding of opinion, situation and drawing comprehensive facts. The processes of making keen observations, raising questions, and unraveling evidence are crucial in learning. In fact, critical thinking opens paths in the mind, which subsequently lead to learning ((Ellis, 1997).
The development of critical thinking ability progresses in steps that reflect a change in personal attitudes and beliefs which allow both the learner and instructor to take part in educational setup. In the first step, dualism, learners perceive instructors as all knowing, and that the information can only be right or wrong. At this level, a learner fails to conceptualize the teachings from teachers but, instead, constrains to knowledge he/she receives. An instructor needs to give challenges that jog the minds of learners and make them think independently or out of the box. The second step is multiplicity or subjective knowledge. Learners play a vital role at this stage as they open their minds and perceive knowledge as a process of acquiring facts. This mental change enables students to perceive instructors’ information as opinions open to analysis. During the third step of developing critical thinking, learners understand that it is essential to support an opinion with reasons. Learners should also procedurally compare different factors and supporting ideas that build an opinion into complexity; hence, the name relativism or procedural behavior. Lastly, after an opinion develops with relation to other factors and other people’s opinions, it is paramount to be bold and committed to the analyzed and developed opinion. Such commitment means that the learner may go against the expectations. Therefore, to avoid chaos, learner should refer to requirements of the instructor to encourage developmental conclusion rather than retrogressive criticism (Steltenpohl, Shipton & Villines, 2004).
Conclusively, it is possible to acquire the skill of critical thinking. Critical thinking helps in the creation, development, and commitment to an opinion.