According to a British Council report, one of the main reasons these skills are so important is economic: critical thinking and problem-solving help people make better decisions about their jobs and livelihood. For example, 78 per cent of people living in poverty are in rural areas and are farmers. Being able to think critically about different approaches to water and grassland management may boost productivity and increase income. In some communities, adopting different breeds has grown milk yields by 65 per cent, and better grassland management has doubled the income of herders.
Critical thinking: the stages
Critical thinking can be divided into seven stages:
- Understanding the issue clearly without room for error or misunderstanding
- Understanding the final goals and objectives, or outputs and outcomes of the exercise
- Gathering as much information and data from multiple sources as possible to be able to make an informed decision
- Getting multiple points of view on the issue to formulate a complete picture
- Separating fact from assumption
- Looking back at historical data to check for any learning which can be useful
- Draw your most logical conclusion basis the above information
Tip: Discussions and group sessions are great ways to enhance critical thinking as they offer students a chance to think about things they care about and analyse the pros and cons of their thought processes to explain their points of view.
Free resources to help you develop your critical thinking skills:
- Improve your own critical thinking skills by doing free Sudoku puzzles. You can pause, print, clear, modify difficulty level and ask, ‘How am I doing?’ in the middle of the puzzle
- Here is a great blog by Don Watson on the concept of critical thinking
- For teachers, watch this sample lesson on encouraging critical thinking with the help of the map of the world.
- Taking an online course is a great way to advance these skills. MOOCs, for example, will expand your professional knowledge and provide global perspectives from other participants who join from around the world. The British Council offers a range of MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform, including ‘How to Succeed in a Global Workplace.’
- Look for courses that focus on maximising opportunities for you to speak or write. A good course will develop your independent learning skills and offer practical learning activities based on real-life situations.
At the British Council, these skills are built into our course design. For example, our online myEnglish courses include communicative group tasks in live online classes – all under the guidance of an internationally-qualified and experienced teacher.
Learn more about our online business communication learning and development solutions by clicking here: https://www.britishcouncil.in/english/corporates