Critical and Creative Thinking: What is Which and What are the Advantages

The two contrasting hemispheres of the brain illustrated by two people

When dealing with problems, there are two ways to approach them. One might find solutions by applying critical thinking, while someone might find it more suitable to use creative thinking. Critical and creative thinking are essential during the learning process, which requires students to resort to different methods. They can use reason and logic when acquiring their knowledge, or be innovative and use imagination when finding solutions.

What is creative thinking?

Creative thinking is a form of innovation which seeks to find new answers and allow new perspectives on a problem. The outcome of this process should be original and unique. Through it, people might find unexpected solutions and increase productivity.

Through creative thinking, one starts by putting up lists of possibilities on a quest for ideas. Any unconventional proposition is welcome as, in the end, the product consists of various theories on the same issue. To come up with ideas, people can use both structured and unstructured methods.

Brain colored in rainbow shades


Brainstorming vs. lateral thinking

Brainstorming is the unstructured type of process. It consists of a free discussion, where everyone contributes with ideas and suggestions. Those who are part of a brainstorming process are encouraged to voice all their ideas. Sometimes, they might have some unorthodox propositions, but this is all for the better.

Lateral thinking is the structured alternative to achieving creative thinking. It might seem a little too critical as, in the end, it reaches logical conclusions. However, the thinking process does not follow the classic line, and the ideas produced are attained from many points of view. In fact, the purpose of creative thinking is to supply some ideas which are then filtered through critical thinking.

Skills related to creative thinking

People who use this process have to be open-minded and flexible to outlandish ideas. Also, they need the imagination to produce the original ideas, and the creativity to make them unique. To produce alternatives and make them possible, it’s necessary to elaborate on a basis and even take some risks.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking makes use of logic, reason, and analyzing to reach a conclusion. The subjects first have to observe and have a certain experience with the elements of the problem. Then, they closely ponder all possibilities and analyze the reality. The final judgment is empirical and educated.

In critical thinking, people learn how to question everything. They do this by using logic to filter through all the alternatives. For the results to be the best, they also have to remain objective and thoroughly analyze everything that’s given to them.

Two heads constructed of gears

What to use critical thinking for?

This process is best in debates, when people are trying to build up arguments to support their convictions. Also, some questions require a single answer, but more alternatives are offered. This is the best method of sorting the real one out. As mentioned above, critical and creative thinking are related as the former is used to sift through the variety given by the latter.

Critical and creative thinking – main differences

Critical and creative thinking both seek to find answers and promote learning, but they use opposing principles and techniques. First of all, creative thinking is all about innovation. It wants to come up with new theories, while critical thinking explores the already existing options and the truth present in them.

Also, creative thinking seeks to generate. The main purpose of critical thinking is to be purely analytical and explore everything that is given. This is offered by the widely accepted principles which are closely followed in critical thinking. In the other variant, they are disregarded and challenged.

In the end, the main purpose of critical thinking is to reach one single answer. Therefore, all the methods are convergent, and carefully remove the options one by one, until the best is left. Creative thinking is clashing, divergent, and encourages diversity.

How do critical and creative thinking work together?

When solving problems, one may opt for one alternative or the other. However, in the context of learning, the two processes are not mutually exclusive. Both are essential for the development of thinking abilities. If students develop both their logic and imagination skills, they will later be able to choose their preferred strategy. Also, they will spontaneously use whatever suits the situation.

Critical and creative thinking in learning

To make kids develop critical and creative thinking, they first have to learn a few investigation techniques. Working in teams teaches them to listen to others’ opinions and thus develop a set of theories. On the other hand, working individually enhances their logical skills, and encourages them to ponder each result.

Critical and creative thinking are good for developing the inquiry skills of the kids. Both of them make the students ask more questions and be more curious about the options they have. Also, they get to compare all the information and be more attentive to where it comes from.

The analytical and the creative hemisphere of the brain

The two processes increase both the creativity and pragmatism of a child

Of course, these techniques increase the creativity of a child. By knowing how to come up with ideas and then judge them, students can then identify common points and find out how they are related. By connecting them, they might even find new solutions, or establish on the best strategy to apply.

These processes are essential for the development of a child into an adult endowed with reason. They teach them how to apply reason and logical concepts, and then reach conclusions. These skills are what it takes to help kids take decisions on their own, as they become capable of analyzing the consequences of their actions.

Drawing to a Close

Critical and creative thinking are two opposed methods to rationalize, which can often complete each other. Although one seeks to generate ideas and the other wants to sort out the existent options, they can both train the brain to be more creative and find solutions quickly. It also develops one’s logical skills, thus improving decision making and the analysis of consequences.

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