"Why" is a question that parents get tired of hearing too much and critical thinking teachers get tired of not hearing enough. Even if you're not a teacher, you should look to this question as a metric: a business thrives when its people can raise important questions, assess information, understand implications, and communicate their knowledge.
Critical thinking is a learned skill , and taking a professional writing class in critical thinking and writing can be a huge benefit to employees and employers alike. Here are four areas a course will focus on:
- Asking the right questions. No one knows everything about anything – that is, all our knowledge is incomplete. It's the people who can identify what they don't know (but need to know), who can get them that information, and how to go about getting it who can compensate for gaps in their knowledge.
- Interpreting the information. Information can be inaccurate or irrelevant for plenty of reasons, and understanding how to evaluate the information you have can be a lifesaver. For example, sales wisdom from the 1990s may be spot-on in terms of psychology but no longer relevant in terms of technology, and the same survey will yield more usable data when administered by a firm trained in survey methodology, not a page on your website.
- Sussing out assumptions. Even in ancient Greece, people knew the Earth was round by observing its shadow on the moon. How does this change your understanding of Columbus's trip? Sometimes, what you think you know gets in the way of the truth. Learning how to identify and test your assumptions is a necessary step in making actionable recommendations based on real data.
- Teaching others. Whether it's an interdepartmental memo or a three-hour seminar, critical thinkers need to understand how to organize facts, interpretations, and implications in a way that others can understand. This is why critical thinking and writing are so closely linked. Critical thinking doesn't mean much when only one person can understand the topic.
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