Who Should You Thank for Your Critical Thinking Skills?

Next month I will attend a 2-day Critical Thinking Boot Camp, and I can’t wait to receive expert training and one-on-one coaching to improve my critical thinking skills.  In preparation for the boot camp, I reviewed my Watson-Glaser II Critical Thinking Appraisal assessment results, and began to think about who I should thank for helping build my skills up to this point in life.

I wondered who I should include in my acceptance speech for Greatest Critical Thinker of the Year (if it existed), and realized I would barely make it through the first 4 names before the orchestra subtly played me off-stage.  My last 3 bosses/mentors alone helped mold my ability to think critically and Draw Conclusions in a timely manner due to business demands.  They each helped me see alternative possibilities and different viewpoints when I was stuck on one thought path.  Thanks Heather, Pat and Roy!

My parents certainly played a large role too.  Their method of teaching may have been unorthodox at times, but who can deny the value of learning how to evaluate quality of data by picking the winning dog at the race track? How many 10 year olds do you know who can explain Superfectas, Quinelas, and the reasoning behind a Parlay? I learned when to take into account factors like the state of the track (dry or muddy), temperature, recent injuries, and how wide the dog runs when taking the turns.

When you arrive at a dog race track, you can buy books with dozens of statistics about each dog.  Truly, it can be overwhelming.  They key is to learn which pieces of data matter in this particular situation.  Then you must Evaluate the Arguments for or against each dog to decide who will win the race.  And while you could spend days pouring over the odds, stats, and predictions, at some point, you have to lay your $2 on the line (Draw the Conclusion) and yell “Go lucky #7!”

Who would have thought that one of the most memorable critical thinking lessons my parents ever taught me happened when they took me out of school to attend the matinée session at the dog track?  Thanks for building my critical thinking skills, mom and dad!

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Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens.  She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training.  She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting.  She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson.  Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts. 

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