Developing Critical Thinking Skills of a Teenager

The lack of critical thinking skills is a common problem among teenagers. Schools and colleges work on the developing of critical thinking skills of their students, but not enough. The importance of these skills is huge and that is the reason why we want to analyze them together with you.

It may sound irrelevant for success. However, it is quite the opposite. First of all, teenagers do not know what is critical thinking skills exactly. More precisely, they are not sure what benefits critical thinking skills can bring to their lives. It is the right time to change that, isn’t it?

Having critical thinking skills mean making reasonable judgments that are logical and well-thought out. The teenagers mustn’t accept every argument and conclusion they get. They need to strive to explore everything, ask questions they need to ask and after that to find their own arguments and conclusions.

Before we discover how to develop critical thinking skills, we need to see which skills critical thinking includes!

What is “Critical Thinking Skills”?

The critical thinking skills are:

  • Analytical
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Open-Minded
  • Problem Solving

We know that the list is not so clear. That’s why we want to divide these critical thinking skills into “subskills”. It will give you a better explanation of what “critical thinking skills” is.
Analytical Skills

Every young adult needs to carefully analyze every piece of information that he gets. If you do not understand the data you get, there is a big chance you will make the wrong conclusions. Here are some examples this set of critical thinking skills:

  1. Data Analysis
  2. Information Seeking
  3. Asking “valuable” questions
  4. Judgment
  5. Recognizing differences and similarities, etc.
  • Communication

Youngsters (grownup people as well) usually do not understand what it means to have quality communication skills. This type of critical thinking skills includes verbal, nonverbal and written communication. Developing critical thinking skills successfully is only possible if you improve each one. It is important that you do not skip any of them.

Here are some samples of communication skills:

  1. Explanation
  2. Collaboration
  3. Presentation
  4. Teamwork
  5. Written communication (networking for example)
  6. Interpersonal skills, etc.
  • Creativity

Critical thinking skills always involve some level of creativity. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to find some pieces of information immediately. That’s why sometimes, you need to predict some things and to imagine what could happen if you make some decision. The samples of creativity are:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Imagination
  3. Predicting
  4. Synthesizing
  5. Conceptualization, etc.
  • Open-Minded

Being objective is a hard task. But, every young adult will have the opportunity to learn that. Developing critical thinking skills is not possible if your mind is not open to it. If your mind is “closed”, then you won’t be able to analyze the information you receive correctly. Being open-minded means you have to be:

  1. Inclusive
  2. Fair
  3. Observation
  4. Reflection
  5. Humble
  • Problem Solving

One of the main reasons why young adults do not want to become entrepreneurs is the fear of uncertainty. It is a challenge for them to handle pressure and everyday problems. That is the reason why problem-solving is another crucial thinking skill that they need to work on.

Defeating your fears and focusing your energy on the solution will show you how to develop critical thinking skills. Here are the things you need to have and improve on:

  1. Attention to details
  2. Clarification
  3. Decision-making
  4. Innovative
  5. Applying standards, etc.

Now when you know what is critical thinking skills, it is the right time to see how to develop critical thinking skills. The process requires time and patience, so do not expect that your critical thinking skills will be perfect by tomorrow.

How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills

There are several different steps that will show you how to develop critical thinking skills.
More precisely, there are eight different steps you need to go through in order to achieve your goal:

  • Ask Questions that Matter
  • Evaluate What You Hear
  • Detect Sources of Information
  • Research, Research, and Research
  • Ask Yourself “Am I right?”
  • Improve Your Weaknesses / Work On Your Strengths
  • Keep It Simple
  • Repeat the Process

Let’s analyze together how to develop critical thinking skills. We will expand this list with clear explanations.

  • Ask Questions That Matter

You already know how important it is to improve yourself with valuable pieces of information. Yet, those pieces of information won’t just come along. You need to look for them. Still, the questions you ask really need to be good. Asking and exploring the wrong things will only be a waste of time.

Developing critical thinking skills requires finding correct and valuable pieces of information. Many youngsters have access to many pieces of information. But, is every information you get going to help them improve their critical thinking skills?

Internet technology is a powerful tool for finding the knowledge you need. There are many valuable blogs, vlogs, e-books, and other educational materials that will help you become a better entrepreneur. These are the places where well-experienced, educated, and successful people share their personal and business experience.

  • Evaluate What You Hear

Get back to the part where we say “what is critical thinking skills?”. It is important for a teenager to evaluate everything that he hears. The pieces of information you receive are not always good. For instance, let’s imagine that you want to become an owner of an IT startup. It is not a secret that you lack in life and industry experience. Logically, you will start asking questions about the business. But, that doesn’t mean you have to agree with absolutely everything you hear.

Write the suggestions you get on a piece of paper. Read them carefully and imagine what would happen if you do what others tell you to do. Here is the moment where you need to use your critical thinking skills. Evaluate and think about everything! Include your imagination and try to see the exact result of your decision or conclusion.

In this way, you won’t allow anyone to control your life. You might commit mistakes in the beginning, but don’t let those scare you. Keep in mind that your mistakes are the best possible lessons you will get. Besides, even experienced entrepreneurs who are already on top do make mistakes.

  • Detect Sources of Information

We already determined that not every opinion or conclusion that we receive is good. However, the quality of information you get depends a lot on the source of that information.

This information may come from different sources. For example, we can get advice from parents, family members, and friends. It can also be in the form of an article, book, video, podcast, etc. But, before you start listening, you need to find out who gives you those pieces of advice. Your critical thinking skills will come in handy when you qualify this information.

Let’s imagine that you want to find a mentor. Majority of young adults do not know how to recognize a good one. They think that the main characteristic they should look for is years of experience. However, that is an irrelevant factor here for your critical thinking skills.

A true mentor is a combination of knowledge, life experience and willingness to help others to improve their lives. He needs to understand your position and feelings in order to help you. That is the reason why you need to detect your source of information before everything if you truly want to develop your critical thinking skills.

  • Research, Research, Research

Developing critical thinking skills depends a lot on your effort and dedication. We already said that you need to research a mentor and ask questions that matter. But remember, you can always do your own research.

There is a reason why the word “research” is mentioned three times in our subheading. You constantly need to strive to improve your knowledge. That way of thinking will help you to improve your critical thinking skills. In addition to that, you will become a better person and a better entrepreneur as well.

Students usually do not spend their time researching things. They are waiting for answers that are going to help them make good decisions and conclusions.

Keep in mind that knowledge is everywhere around us. If you do not have the opportunity to go to high-quality colleges, that doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself. Google and YouTube can give you more answers than you can imagine. The only condition is if you REALLY WANT to do that. This is the only way to boost your critical thinking skills.

  • Ask Yourself – “Am I Right?”

There are some youngsters who can’t take constructive criticisms very well. They feel offended when someone tells them what to do, or how to do things correctly. Someone who are in the position to correct them, let say, their parents, professors, or mentors. They feel that they are being attacked.

Well, one of the critical thinking skills every teen has to possess is objectiveness. Objectiveness won’t just improve your critical thinking skills. It will also change your perspective and lifestyle.

Young adults do not need to agree to everything that they are being told. But they need to know how to qualify if the advice is beneficial to them or not. And that’s where critical thinking skills come in play. They need to be analytical and open minded, among other things.

If a teen aspires to be an entrepreneur, they need to accept that in their business journey, they will encounter all types of feedback – positive and negative. But always keep in mind that if the advice comes from a genuine source, someone who truly cares and mean well, then perhaps you should consider.

Do not ever forget that you are still young. Life is going to teach you many lessons in the future, but at the moment, you are still a kid that needs improvement. Be objective in absolutely every situation and do not try to avoid feedback for your work. This also means that you need to think with your own head. Developing critical thinking skills includes both making your own decisions and listening to the critiques of others.

  • Improve Your Weaknesses / Work on Your Strengths

There are some kids who would think that they are less compared to others. They are unsure on what to do, so they sometimes feel they are useless. However, we all have our talents. Some of them are just hidden deep in our hearts that just need to be recognized.

Get a piece of paper. In one column, list all things you do very well, or where you are strong at. On another column, write down all the things you need to improve on. Having a clear view of your strengths and weaknesses gives you a better perspective on the direction you are going to take. Now, on a third column, enumerate the ways you will do to improve yourself.

Do not delay your improvement. Start in the exact same moment when you put your pencil on the table. Do not forget that one of the critical thinking skills is problem-solving. You do not have other option but to SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM. Remember, these habits would have a great effect on your success if sorted efficiently.

  • Keep it Simple

Some might say, “this is easier said than done”. But hey, it is not as difficult as you think. Developing your critical thinking skills can be a fun and interesting process. Kids are usually under pressure when they need to do something completely new. The grownups actually have the same problem. So, it doesn’t matter how old you are.

Do not worry if your critical thinking skills remain at the same level for some period of time. This is a long process, and it needs time to become a better version of yourself. Do not feel like you are running out of time. We hope you understand that developing critical thinking skills is a lifetime process. So, enjoy every moment of your improvement, and remember the lessons you get on that trip.

  • Repeat the Process

It is not surprising if a child gets stuck at some point during the period of progress. You can’t skip any of the parts we mentioned above because if you do, the results are not going to be good. If something like that happens to you, repeat the whole process.

Go back and re-evaluate. Remember, there is no deadline in self-improvement. As mentioned, becoming a better version of yourself is a lifetime process. Set realistic deadlines. Keep yourself motivated. And always have that confidence to push forward.

Conclusion: Benefits of Critical Thinking Skills Improvement

Now that you know how to answer the questions: “what is critical thinking skills?” and “how to develop critical thinking skills?”, it is the perfect moment to see what you can get out of these. There are several different benefits we would like to highlight:

  • Development of knowledge after school
  • Making hard decisions
  • Others won’t manipulate you
  • Becoming a successful entrepreneur
  • Being independent!!!

Development of Knowledge after School

Critical thinkers are never satisfied with their education. They strive harder to achieve more. They use absolutely every moment to learn something new. Teens with entrepreneurial spirit must think this way. They should constantly try to improve their skills and knowledge to keep the doors of possibilities always open.

Remember, education continues after school. The knowledge that you get from school only prepares you to a much bigger playing field – the reality.

Making Hard Decisions

You can hear from some of the grownups that the most beautiful part of their lives was their childhood. They talk about their school days and how carefree they were. Maybe they did not give much attention in developing their critical thinking skills because they did not find a need for it during that period in their lives. And so, many years later, when they need to make tough decisions, they experience a bit of a challenge because they were unprepared.

Developing critical thinking skills at a young age will definitely prepare you for the tough moments you’ll encounter in life. Making small decisions on your own now, using your critical thinking skills, will help you in making more difficult ones later. And you need to have a lot practice to perfect the technique. It will not come overnight; life experiences definitely play an important role.

Other’s Can’t Manipulate You

It does not matter whether you are 15 or 50. There are some people that you will encounter who will try to manipulate you, your ways, and your decisions.

When you are a critical thinker, and you know how to analyze things, be open-minded, employ great communication, apply creativity, and solve problems, then no one will be able to manipulate you. You can make sound decisions, and you’ll know which people are toxic and why you need to avoid them. Hence, your life is going to be a lot easier.

Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

Each successful entrepreneur has high-quality critical thinking abilities. Having so enabled them to achieve success in their field. You too can do that! In order to achieve your goals, you need to start working on it as soon as possible.

Let’s use Steve Jobs as a good example. He went to a college that was too expensive. His parents spent thousands of dollars on his education, but he was not feeling happy there. Professors were convincing him that he will remain average for the entire of his life. Yet, he did not want to allow others to make conclusions about his talents. He was aware of his possibilities and he defeated all the troubles he had on his road to success. In 2019, we can see what exactly his critical thinking possibilities brought to the world.

There are other successful entrepreneurs that we can talk about here. For example, Bill Gates, Gary Vee, Warren Buffet, and many others. Without any doubt, each one possessed the skills we mentioned in this article.

So, why do you think you won’t be able to achieve the same or even bigger success? Starting your own business can be the smartest and worst decision at the same time. It depends only on you! You will have to analyze and measure many things, make huge decisions, communicate with various people, etc. If you prepare yourself for that when you are still a kid, then things will be a lot easier later.

Being Independent!!!

Finally, critical thinking will show you how true happiness and joy look like. More precisely, you will discover the true beauty of life.

Being independent will make you tough. It will push your critical thinking skills to its fullest. You have yourself to rely on. Of course, you have your parents, friends, and mentors to help you along the way. But majority of it depends on you, and yours alone.

So do not think too much! You have enough time to improve every weakness and strength that you have. Focus on your goals, be persistent, and work hard! That is the formula for success.

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