Thinking is a mental process that follows a complex dimension; it is intrinsic to all human beings as it is a part of day-to-day interaction (Halpern & Riggio, 1996). It involves being open-minded and flexible to ensure that one makes the right decisions and effectively deals with their consequences and outcomes (Moore & Little, 1967). Critical and creative thinking go hand in hand, which implies that they are inseparable. On the one hand, critical thinking involves analyzing a situation to see its implication while creative thinking, on the other hand, suggests the solution to the issue at hand. While combining both types, one of them is able to generate meaningful outcomes (Halpern & Riggio, 1996).
Critical and creative thinking give the ability to reason differently, look at the issues from another perspective in comparison with the majority, and offer possible solutions to challenges. In essence, critical and creative thinking are skills acquired over time (Moore et al., 1967). These skills are in close interrelation with each other since one does not jump to conclusions based on hearsay, but is able to evaluate the issue thoroughly and then deduce conclusions based on own understanding and comprehension. This ensures that one has sufficient knowledge regarding the issue (Halpern & Riggio, 1996).
A critical thinker is also the person who is able to evaluate their own judgments bearing in mind that they are not perfect and are always ready to learn from their own mistakes (Moore et al., 1967). Critical thinkers are not afraid of experimenting and doing things in a different way that others may find difficult. In other words, they like thinking like nobody else, which will underscore their being unique and standing for what they believe in (Pofahl & Papp, 2001). There are two types of critical and creative thinkers namely weak and strong thinkers (Halpern & Riggio, 1996). Weak thinker uses his capability to develop without thinking of effects that might have on others, while the strong thinkers use their capability to enhance the life of the whole society due to being unselfish (Moore & Little, 1967).
Critical thinking involves some aspects, for instance, it must have a base on which it is founded, some accuracy, sensibility and relevance. Moreover, it should not be shallow and involve a wide scope as well as has to be significant and justified (Pofahl & Papp, 2001). In essence, a critical thinker is independent of thoughts but is able to accommodate the views of others. This person is able to gather ideas from others and enrich his or her knowledge of life and in the process can acquire skills of problem solving, which he or she can use to help solve not only personal problems, but also the issues of the whole society (Halpern & Riggio, 1996).
Since time immemorial, critical and creative thinking presume solving issues in the society. For instance, King Solomon in the Bible is famous for his wisdom, which is a reflection of critical and creative thinking while solving the dispute between the two women who came to him arguing about a child (Pofahl & Papp, 2001). It hence is not surprising that one applies critical and creative thinking to solve societal challenges, which include political issues, wars, pollution, poverty, drugs and substance abuse. To solve these issues, creativity is the main ingredient (Pofahl & Papp, 2001). The following are applicable steps:
- Acknowledging that the problem exists is the most crucial step.
- Learn as much as possible about the challenge.
- Come up with the idea(s) on how to approach the challenging question.
- Figure out the remedy/solution for such case, where a lot of creativity is required.
- Implementation/evaluation of the final solution (Pofahl & Papp, 2001).
An example in a democratic society is the political scene, whereas the electorate must apply critical and creative thinking while electing their leaders. They must evaluate them in terms of credibility and integrity (Moore & Little, 1967). Moreover, they should elect leaders who are constantly involved in issues of governance. Critical and creative thinking is the knowledge, which helps the citizenry to decipher and separate good leaders from the bad and unworthy ones (Halpern & Riggio, 1996). Critical thinkers can differentiate false promises from real ones and are able to shun propaganda as well as choose leaders to represent their beliefs (Pofahl & Papp, 2001).
Concerning the issue of drug and substance abuse, the citizenry can use critical and creative thinking to educate others on the impacts of drug usage. Close analysis of the habit can help change the lives of many people leading to better lives (Pofahl & Papp, 2001). The other issues are poverty and unemployment (Halpern & Riggio, 1996). Creativity applied in the cases enable people to come up with new ideas about the establishment of enterprises to earn income. This can ultimately be possible with open-mindedness and ability to face risks as emphasized by critical and creative thinking, which presume talking to people and borrowing their ideas thus getting clues on available opportunities (Moore & Little, 1967).
From the above illustrations, it is quite clear that the importance of critical and creative thinking to the citizens when solving the societal challenges is of paramount importance. Therefore, one must work towards promoting it to uphold the democracy. This is achievable if the citizens are well informed and able to tackle the challenges facing in their day-to-day interactions (Pofahl & Papp, 2001).