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What is Critical Thinking? Why is it important?

When an individual makes a decision, he should be identifying and evaluating evidence for and against the choice he is making. This process is called critical thinking. Analyzing evidence to guide one's decisions is key to being an effective thinker and making well-reasoned choices.

Critical thinking plays a fundamental role in making any choice, from choosing the correct answer from multiple choices on an exam question to making major life decisions such as choosing a spouse. A child taught to think critically is a child far less likely to make poor choices that are harmful to one's self or to others. A child taught to think critically can accurately predict the possible outcomes of his actions.

To teach a child critical thinking skills, you do not give him facts to memorize. Instead, you train a child to ask questions, seek alternative answers, try hypotheses, and consider other viewpoints. Critical thinking helps a child formulate the right questions, assess possible answers, judge the credibility of information and sources, and make solid judgments based on the evidence.

Critical thinking should be a component of every curriculum. Knowledge without critical thinking skills turns a person into a parrot. Fully developed human beings don't necessarily need all the answers but should have effective skills for formulating and evaluating the questions.

Linda Popolano

Linda Popolano is a homeschooling mom and an Independent Consultant with Bright Minds/The Critical Thinking Company at Home. For wonderful books and software to inspire critical and creative thinking, visit inspirethinking.com for a free catalog. Many of the word and logic puzzles she and her son shared together come from Bright Minds' Mind Benders and Dr. Funster's product lines.

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