Critical thinking is smarter thinking. The ability to think critically is what makes us capable of tackling new challenges – and completing them well.
Critical thinking skills help employees to plan more efficiently and use good judgement to cope with an increased flow of digital information. It teaches the best ways of evaluating evidence, and using the results to come up with innovative new solutions to problems. And it makes it quicker, safer, and easier to come up with informed and creative decisions.
A workforce that thinks critically is increasingly necessary in a rapidly-changing business market in which agile organizations continue to thrive.
And the biggest names in business, education, and self-development agree: here’s why critical thinking matters, in their own words.
1. "If you want to succeed in 21st-century business you need to become a critical thinker"
John Baldoni, Chair of leadership Development at N2Growth [Quote source]
2. “Even if we do arrive at a point where most work is done by computers, cognitive skills will still matter — not for the economy, but for the successful functioning of a democratic society. In such a society, a great deal will turn on the ownership and regulation of the computers and robots doing all the work, and the debates around such issues will require an educated and informed populace.”
Daisy Christodoulou, R&D Manager at Ark Schools [Source]
3. "If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought"
Sir Isaac Newton [Quote source]
4. “California teachers say critical thinking skills, not scores on standardized tests, are the best way to assess whether students are prepared for success in college and the workplace”
College and Career Readiness Survey, 2015 [Source]
5. "Imagination encircles the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution"
Albert Einstein [Quote source]
6. “School education has tended to focus on developing the core cognitive competences — for example, reading, writing and arithmetic. Smart machines have long since surpassed humans in their ability to do the first and third of these. And they are fast catching-up on the second. That begs the question of whether there are other skills where humans’ comparative advantage is greater.”
Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England [Source]
7. "The No. 1 think we look for is general cognitive ability, and it's not IQ. It's learning ability. It;s the ability to process on the fly"
Lazlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google [Quote source]
8. “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, should learn a computer language, because it teaches you how to think… I view computer science as a liberal art, it should be something that everybody learns”
Steve Jobs [Source]
9. "We need to teach kids creative thinking, and we're teaching them the opposite"
Lawrence M. Krauss, Professor of Physics at Arizona State University [Source]
10. “If today’s students want to compete in this global society, they must be proficient communicators, creators, critical thinkers, and collaborators (the “Four Cs”).”
National Education Association [Source]
11. "You should tale the approach that you're wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong."
Elon Musk [Quote source]
12. “Today’s students need critical thinking and problem-solving skills not just to solve the problems of their current jobs, but to meet the challenges of adapting to our constantly changing workforce.”
Ken Kay, CEO of EduLeader [Source]
13. "Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status"
Sir Ken Robinson, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Warwick [Quote source]
14. “…sound thinking requires both imagination and intellectual standards. When one engages in high-quality thinking, one functions both critically and creatively; one produces and assesses, generates and judges, the products of his or her thought.”
Richard Paul and Linda Elder [Source]
15. "The hallmark of American education [is that it is] an education designed to create thinking citizens for a free society."
American Association of University Professors [Quote source]
16. “Successful individuals are those who have creative skills, to produce a vision for how they intend to make the world a better place for everyone; analytical intellectual skills, to assess their vision and those of others; practical intellectual skills, to carry out their vision and persuade people of its value; and wisdom, to ensure that their vision is not a selfish one.”
Robert Sternberg, Professor of Human Development at Cornell [Source]
17. "The solutions to international problems, such as global warming, require highly developed critical thinking and problem-solving abilities."
National Education Association [Quote source]
18. “Faculty members [agree] almost unanimously that teaching students to think critically is the principle aim of undergraduate education.”
Derek Bok [Source]
19. "The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think."
20. “While they may be acquiring subject-specific knowledge or greater self- awareness on their journeys through college, many students are not improving their skills in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing.”
Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa [Source]
21. "I'm calling on our nation's governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that measure whether students possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking."
Barak Obama [Quote source]
22. “The most important attribute that education can bring to anyone is the ability to think critically. In an era where information and knowledge is universally available, it is the power to comprehend, assess and analyse which makes the difference – those are the critical thinking skills.”
Charles Clarke, former UK Secretary of State for Education