How to develop a critical mindset

« Critical thinking is 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. »Francis Bacon, philosopher

Having a critical mindset seems like a rather abstract notion. Indeed, we all have a critical mindset, more or less developed at a certain age. 

First, what is critical thinking? 

It is a clear and reflective thinking on something you are either studying or something you have learned. It usually is associated with the question tag « why? » and challenges the fact in itself instead of blatantly accepting it. 

At school, having a critical eye is essentiel. Something I have noticed is that usually during the first years of school, especially primary school, having a critical mind doesn’t seem a key part of the work, as you are expected to learn new things and not especially criticize them right away. But as you grow older and especially after high school you start to be used to criticizing. Being in college means no matter what work you are working on you have at some point to criticize what you are dealing with. 

There are a number of professions where having a critical mindset is essential but as scholars and especially dealing with literature, you cannot skip this step. 

Periods of time when you start developing a critical mindset 
  1. Primary school: children learn new things everyday and in primary school the emphasis is put on encouraging creativity because learning whilst playing entertain children 
  2. Secondary school: it introduces the concept of independence with more open-ended questions. Debates are also introduced especially in high school to confront the different critical mindsets 
  3. College: during these years, having a critical mindset is essential, you are always judged according to whether or not you give your opinion on a piece of work 
  4. Work experience: working constantly triggers your critical mindset

Don’t forget that you can always work on your critical mindset and that not everything is acquired so you need to keep practicing. 


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