Critical thinking is the self-discipline of analysing, assessing and reconstructing a media text with a rigorous, mindful approach. It emphasises effective communication and problem-solving skills and a commitment to overcoming deeply entrenched beliefs or confirmation bias (EAVI, criticalthinking.org).
Critical thinking is all about asking questions – the right questions to assess the meaning behind the messages we encounter all around us, including online and offline media. Critical thinking is clear, reasonable, reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do. It means asking probing questions such as ‘How do we know?’ or ‘Is this true in every case or in this instance only?’ It involves being sceptical and challenging assumptions rather than simply memorising facts or blindly accepting what you hear or read (Lumen Learning). Critical thinking enables a person to take a step back and look at any statement from different sides, thus preventing them from rushing to unfair judgements and wrong decisions.
Critical thinking does not mean constantly criticising and looking for flaws (Miller, 2017). It is about being creative, reflective and adaptable. It is about evaluating evidence to make decisions for yourself on what is accurate and relevant and whether or not there is sufficient information on the topic. In the Lumen Learning chapter, you can find a deconstructed example of a person arguing about Americans’ unhealthy diet based on the story of her relative who had a heart attack. Critical thinking is also about a sense of discovery and excitement. Not only about the learning, but also about evaluating arguments and the way they work together and figuring out for yourself whether what resonates with you is right or wrong.