Critical and Lateral Thinking

Examine and Evaluate

Traditionally critical thinking has been valued  in particularly Western thinking. The ultimate goal and purpose with education and particularly higher education has been to gain critical thinking skills.

  • Critical thinking is a way to examine  goals, assumptions, evaluating evidence, and access conclusions.
  • In many cases, critical thinking has a negative character and the aim is to criticise rather than evaluating.

Creative versus Critical

It is often argued that creative and critical are in opposition to each other. Parents are often told that their child either have critical thinking skills or is creative.

  • It is assumed that critical and creative cannot be combined.
  • This way of looking upon thinking fails to take into account the wide range of thinking skills that needs to be used to be a successful thinker.
  • Critical thinking is creative.
  • Creative thinking can be critical.

Critical thinking requires that a child considers a wide range of knowledge and explores questions such as “What else do we need to know?” and “What are the explanations for this?”.

Critical thinking is creative thinking. Several skills are involved  in critical thinking.

  • Take the information into account.
  • Understand the key points and evidence presented.
  • Analyse and compare the key components.
  • Draw conclusions.

Lateral Thinking 

Lateral thinking is nothing new or spectacular in itself. Children are using lateral thinking but it is often  in a random and less deliberate manner.

  • Lateral thinking can help to change the way a child perceive a certain situation.
  • Provides children with a way to see new options and  possibilities.

Critical thinking skills in many cases close and narrow down a problem. Lateral thinking tools help a child to explore and examine an issue in  new ways.

  • Solutions and ideas that would not have been considered are explored and examined.
  • Lateral thinking can lead to thinking about an issue in a strange and even crazy way.
  •  A child who has been taught only to explore and examine the world from a logical point of view may feel unsure and threatened when asked to explore an issue using lateral thinking. 

New and Exciting Ideas

  • New and exciting ideas are rarely the result of thinking which in “inside the box”.
  • To find new solutions, a child needs to be taught to be brave and explore ideas.

You can teach your child to use some thinking tools to help them to find and explore new possibilities.

Deliberate Provocation

One way you can teach your child to examine a problem from a new angle is deliberately to provoke them. To provoke someone is often considered to be a threat. Provocation is dangerous. This provacation is different.

  • You can use provocation  to change the thinking.
  • Provocation can be used as a mind tool where you teach your child to move away from the predictable.

As an example of how you can deliberately use provocation, think of a problem that you need to solve, for example, the maths homework As a deliberate provocation, you can say to your child “the maths homework solves itself while you make a handstand”.

  • This provocation may not lead to the issue begin solved, rather the idea is that it can lead to different ways to examine the problem.
  • The idea is that impossible ideas can be used as a stepping-stone to find new solutions.
Photo: Little Girl With Thumb Up by Michal Marcol  

2 Replies to “Critical and Lateral Thinking”

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