Critical thinking is the gem that every teacher looks for in a student paper, and for many students this is the largest hurdle to overcome.
If we look at critical thinking as defined by the National Council for Critical Thinking, then it "is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."
Sounds tough, right!
Actually, it isn't all that difficult.
For example: "Is Batman tougher than Spiderman?" is a question that can spawn a lively debate between two critically thinking adolescent boys.
Batman has the cool cars and gadgets, but Spiderman has the superhuman strength. Spiderman has those cool Spidey web-shooters, but Batman has the cooler, more intimidating suit.
Who will win? Check out the youtube video above to find the answer to this age old problem:
Beyond the playground debates, like the example above, this type of skillful analysis is what teachers look for in students' papers.
It is actually the best part of writing papers when done thoroughly. Critical thinking not only provides a student with an introduction, body and conclusion for a class paper, but it also provides an opportunity to ask oneself those tough questions that just don't come up in our mundane routines.
For example, if a teacher assigns an argumentative essay asking students to choose between the superpower of flight or invisibility, then students have many questions and avenues to consider.
In order to make an educated choice, we will need to consider and discuss the parameters of each power. Then students will have to consider what actions the powers will enable them to perform. After mulling over these details, we will need to consider our own values in order to make a suitable match to the superpower.
After-all, we do not want to get a decision of this magnitude wrong and then have major regrets!
The same goes for more conventional essay topics. Topics like gun-control, the legalization of gay-marriage, or the separation of church and state. These are the topics we must take seriously, and discuss as thoroughly as possible in our essays.
Critical thinking is how we learn, develop our own ideas, and essentially become the superheroes we want to be. It is also our superpower to writing successful essays.