It is possible that you have read or heard the term “critical thinker.” Some of you may know what it means and some may not. Many young people think being a critical thinker is having the ability to think critically.
But, what does it exactly mean to think critically? John Cotton and Eve Litt offer a concise and straightforward definition in their online course English for Journalism. To be a critical thinker, they say, is to have two qualities: being curious and skeptical. I elaborate them further below.
Curious: It means to be eager to know or learn something. This curiosity can be about a range of issues such as society, politics, science, religion, yourself, etc. Curious people have questions about problems that concern them or have an impact on the larger world in any way. They read, think and try to find accurate answers to their queries. Those who are not curious, are not bothered by issues, and they can’t care less to read a book or a newspaper article. Non-curious people are either lazy, disappointed at the world and extremely busy in earning bread and butter or contended with their “knowledge” of the world.
Skeptical: For a critical thinker, it is not enough to be only curious. He or she has to be skeptical, too. Skeptical comes from skepticism or scepticism, a branch of philosophy that denies the possibility of certain knowledge, and even rational beliefs in some sphere. It means to have doubts and reservations and to be not easily convinced. Being doubtful means verifying the source and objectivity of information or an idea. While reading a report or a news story, for instance, skeptical people look at its originality, completeness, transparency and fairness. They also confirm the authority of a source.
Being curious and skeptical sounds simple but it is not. It requires time, energy, genuine care and consideration about our everyday thought. But, it is worth spending time on learning and analyzing because our views have an impact on people in our neighborhoods and even in countries on other continents.