One of the biggest areas of disagreement I see among instructors of creative thinking courses is the notion that critical thinking and creative thinking are somehow exclusive or distinct. Indeed, many creative thinkers would say that they are engaged in both. However, when I look at the way people who engage in critical thinking and the way they interact with others, I see more evidence that they engage both. Indeed, it seems to me that those who teach creative and critical thinking courses are really just promoters of a single style of thinking.
The critical thinker tends to think slowly and with great attention to details. This results in him asking lots of questions, having a hard time making an argument, and being unable to accept new ideas or concepts. While all this is very useful in everyday life, it doesn’t bode well for creativity. For one thing, critical thinking often produces sterile, dry works of art and it almost ensures that creative thinking is dead in the water. The creative thinker tends to think more in terms of flow, imitation, and analogy and he or she tends to value novelty and creativity over conformity, repetition, and uniformity.
More to the point, however, I think that students undervalue the critical thinking and creative thinking skills of those who actually engage in them. When I put together two unrelated papers, one from each of my two classes, I used a critical thinking process to analyze the merits of both pieces and debate the strengths and weaknesses of each. Only after this process did I ever have trouble agreeing with the other student about which paper was superior, and that one needed additional study.
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In fact, critical thinking and creative thinking can work side by side. It’s important, however, to remember that analytical thinking does not need to be done exclusively in the classroom, in a class, in a workshop, or in any other group activity. In fact, it’s important that you keep learning new critical thinking skills while you’re young and you build up your critical thinking skills throughout your entire life. There are numerous books, seminars, and classes available that will teach you how to develop your analytical and creative thinking skills.
Most of the critical thinkers, including me, also have strong visual thinking skills. It’s easy for me to see when I’m wrong about something or if I’m missing something when I’m reading. Most of the time, my mind goes into overdrive and I start to visualize and then visualize some more, until I start to have flashes of illumination about an issue, problem, or the solution itself. Most critical thinkers and I also tend to be very descriptive. If I can visualize and describe something in my head, I can make myself visualize and explain that same concept or idea in my own words to others.
Most of us, however, tend to be non-deductive critical thinkers. We tend to use inductive reasoning techniques in our thinking which is more logical and “pushy.” We ask questions, look for the answer, make assumptions and draw conclusions based on those questions and other things we’ve learned through the course of our education and experience. This is not the proper way of thinking and you will spend all of your time, effort and money as an independent adult, being a critical thinker, and trying to figure out the answers to tough questions and coming up with non-intuitive or incorrect answers to tough questions.
What I’ve found over the years is that critical thinking is actually not as hard as you may think. There is a process that you have to go through, called discovery, in order to figure out what is correct and what isn’t correct. You have to start off being a non-deductive critical thinker and you have to continue to do critical thinking throughout your entire life, too. I believe that critical thinking is critical to truly succeeding at anything in life.
So, what is the difference between analytical and creative thinking? It all has to do with how you are able to analyze information and learn from that analysis. In other words, analytical thinking is thinking straight out without any sort of logic or evidence and critical thinking is thinking based on logic, evidence and careful observation. You see, there is a difference between the two, and it all has to do with how well you can apply that logic and evidence to an issue or problem. So, if you are looking for tips on how to improve critical thinking and creative thinking, then you just have to understand that this is really the only way to get these techniques to work for you in your life.