Critical Thinking Essay

1257 words - 6 pages

Essays are an essential element of learning, particularly at an undergraduate level. With a well-written essay comes the power to change minds, to influence thinking and create new perspectives. When evaluating the claims presented by a source in an academic essay, a critical and reflective thinker does not simply accept arguments as ‘fact’. Nor do they create arguments based on innuendo and bias. This essay will contend that for students at university level to be taken seriously they must use critical and reflective thinking to write an effective academic essay. The following points will be addressed; what constitutes a credible essay, what is critical thinking and reflective practice, what ...view middle of the document...

Critical thinking and reflective practices are very closely related. While critical thinking is more reasoned, reflective thinking focuses on something that has happened. The critical thinker approaches information not from a disapproving stance but an open minded one. It is not discriminative. Francis Bacon describes critical thinking as “a desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and hatred for every kind of imposture”
(Bacon 1605). Reflection is the process of assessing ones actions and thoughts personally, analyzing how you think and feel about things, “assessing what they know, what they need to know, and how they bridge that gap” (Dewey 1933). Together they go hand in hand with assessing how you feel about something then critically breaking it down to form a well rounded opinion. The critical, reflective thinker questions everything including existing beliefs for the advancement of knowledge. This is the crux of essay writing at an academic level and is the main tool in forming an argument.

Arguments become apparent after careful research and consideration of all the evidence presented. For the essay to be credible it must be free from bias and supported with solid evidence. Forming an argument is much like watching the SBS program, Insight, where members of the public and experts in a chosen field debate a sensitive subject and in the space of an hour the viewer develops a more informed point of view and often a new perspective. Although the example is a watered down version, the process is similar. You read, research and assess as much information as you can before establishing your standpoint. An essay with a strong argument can be a powerful tool, one with the potential to influence a wide variety of people. The credible essay informs and challenges the reader through critical thinking. Critical thinking is not just an academic tool; it is “an emancipation of the mind. It is a society continually improving”. (Elder 2013)

“It is not enough to teach a man a speciality. Through it he may become a kind of useful machine but not a harmoniously developed personality… he more closely resembles a well trained dog than a harmoniously developed person.” (1954, 66). Einstein’s thoughts on critical thinking in his book, Ideas and Opinions mirror that of many intellectuals throughout history. They view it as way forward for society, an alternative to the current suffering we inflict on ourselves through our own ignorance and inability to see the bigger picture. In fact Linda Elder from the Critical Thinking Community goes so far as to say the uncritical mind results in an “unjust, dangerous world. Much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced” (Elder 2013). Moreover, Elder suggests those who use critical thinking are more apt to “fix the problems looming before us,...

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