List, define and explain advance thinking skillsIntroductionOne of the most intriguing and useful faculties we are endowed with is our ability to entertain complex thoughts, to communicate them and to act on them.

Thinking includes a wide range of mental activities. We think when we attempt to solve a math problem in class; we think when we daydream while waiting for the next class. We think about the minutest detail to the most important aspects of our lives. Thought is the “language of the mind”, when we think, we are speaking to ourselves. Creative thinking, critical thinking, problem solving and decision-making are the advanced thinking skills that we must be able to harness and develop to live better lives. This paper explores the advance thinking skills and gives suggestion on how to improve and develop it. Creative ThinkingCreativity is the ability to imagine or invent something new, it is the ability to accept change and newness and have the flexibility in one’s outlook (Harris, 1998). Creative people continually seek to discover new ways of doing things to further improve the present.

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Creative individuals have been found to have a high capacity for hard work, a willingness to take risks and a high tolerance for ambiguity and disorder (Sternber & Lubart, 1995, 1999). Creativity is manifested through the work of artists, investors, innovators and young children. What is common to all of them is that they are not encumbered by the traditional way of looking at things, their imagination are limitless and has a great amount of curiosity.According to Harris (1998), creativity can be manifested through evolution, where new ideas stem from other ideas, and new solutions from previous ones, the new ones slightly improved over the old ones. Take for example how the cellular phones have evolved, from the bulky analog phones to the sleekest and most efficient ones at present that can almost do everything from taking pictures, take videos, play songs, surf the internet and etc. Creativity can also be seen in a revolutionary way wherein a new idea is borne out which is completely different from the previous one (Harris, 1998). Like the onslaught of reality programs in TV this days, instead of asking how we can portray real-life stories in our TV programs, the creative answer would be why not bring in average, real people to TV shows? One of the most commonly used forms of creativity is looking at old things in a new way. Like when an old couch is transformed into a daybed, which is one of the trends at present.

The importance of creativity to our everyday life cannot be taken for granted. Without creative thought processes we would not have or be able to enjoy the things that make our lives a lot better. Creativity also fuels the soul of the person who seeks novel ways of doing things. Our world is interesting and vibrant because of creative individuals, without them, life would certainly be boring.

Being creative and harnessing this resource in the way we think of things can be gratifying for the individual and the rest of society. Even Adler believed that there exists a creative self  which gives meaning to life, it creates the goal as well as the means to the goal (Hall & Lindzey, 1990). So how do we develop or improve our creativity?To develop or improve creative thinking, we must consider that creativity is grounded in our attitude. Thus we must possess the kind of curiosity that is central to creative thinking. By being curious, one desires to know about things for knowledge itself. Together with this, one must be able to suspend their judgment and criticism of new ideas to be accepting and optimistic towards ideas and to avoid condemning them.

In this way, the individual would be more able to think creatively for this attitude facilitates the creative process. To improve creativity one can make use of direct-instruction. By directly telling ourselves to be creative or to approach a problem in a new way forces us to come up with more novel ideas than being limited to conventional ways of thinking.

Critical ThinkingCritical thinking is the quest for knowledge about the world. It is a skillful thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe and how to behave. Critical thinking is not only being able to think of when to cross the street or pour water to extinguish a fire in the kitchen. These are simple, low-order thinking that man has to master for survival, and more often than not a necessary component of normal human functioning.

With critical thinking, we make sure to cross streets that have a pedestrian lane and traffic light and to close the gasoline valve to stop the fire in the kitchen. The difference between simple and critical thought process is the effectiveness of our actions brought about by the way we think.A person who can think critically asks the right questions, gather appropriate information, systematically sort through this information and use logical reasoning to arrive at the most valid conclusions about the world. When a person is a critical thinker, he/she can live in this world successfully and become responsible, fully functioning individuals. Critical thinking is a life skill that should be taught to children and adults alike.

A critical thinker is one who asks the right questions, gather appropriate information, systematically sort through gathered information and use logical reasoning to arrive at the most valid conclusions (Scriven & Paul, 1992).To develop and improve our critical thinking skills, we must adopt the components of the critical thought process in our everyday lives because like all skills, this improves with practice.To be critical thinkers, we must first know how to investigate problems and to ask questions. Instead of just accepting at face value the credit cards offered to us, let us first ask what does the credit card has to offer to us. Then we need to gather more information about the credit card, we read the fine print, and we can investigate about the card, its terms, the interest rates, the credit limit and even the freebies. When we have the necessary information, we can then begin to systematically analyze the information, we can separate the information into its advantages and disadvantages. After which, we have sufficient basis to act on what we believe, whether the credit card offered is a good deal or not.

Problem SolvingFor many people, problem solving is thinking in itself. Regardless of who we are or what we do, we are continually faced with problems from the simplest to the most complex that we must solve satisfactorily. In solving problems we are striving for a goal but have no ready means of obtaining it (Austrian, 2002).  Problem solving therefore is thinking of ways and acting on our thoughts to bring about desired goals. Like when we are given a jigsaw puzzle to complete, the goal is to put all of the pieces together; at present we have a number of pieces that we must put together in a predetermined way. Our job is to look for the logic behind the parts to attain our goal. Clearly some will look at the model and use this as a guide to solve the problem, which is an example of Kohler’s insightful learning (Atkinson, et.

al, 1996), which is a top-down approach to problem solving which is a structured, planned and conceptual in nature. Others may move the pieces around and see what goes together and work form there, this strategy is more akin to Thorndike’s trial and error learning (Hall, 1990).Being able to solve problems in the best possible way is important since we are constantly faced with problems. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the problem, so that we can live a life that is problem free. Thus, as a faculty that is always exercised, we must be able to develop and improve this skill. We can begin by exploring the problem, we have to find out or establish what the problem is and what it is not. Our success in solving a problem lies in our accurate description of what it is we need to solve.

When faced with a practical problem like a dripping faucet in the kitchen. We can determine that the problem is the water dripping from the faucet, which is not cost effective and is a waste. Then we must decide what to do or plan a strategy to fix the problem. We could either place a container to catch the dripping water or to replace the faucet to eliminate the problem after which, we can act on our decisions and behave accordingly.

Decision-MakingMaking decisions is a part of our lives, and sometimes it is often strange to think of it as an advance thinking skill. Decision making is the study of identifying and choosing alternatives based on values and preferences of the decision maker, and is a process of sufficiently reducing uncertainty and doubt about alternatives to allow a reasonable choice to be made among them (Harris, 1998). This definition means that making a decision is centered on a vast array of possible alternatives, the goal is to reduce uncertainty, because making a decision does not necessarily mean it will eliminate the problem.

The decision-making procedure is as follows; identify the decision to be made together with the goals it should achieve. Like when trying to make a decision where to enroll for a master’s degree, we must consider what are our goals for pursuing a master’s degree. The next step is to get the facts, thus we may gather from different universities information about the degree we are looking for. Then we can develop alternatives, we can narrow the universities we are interested in, taking note of our goals and values.

Next is to rate the alternatives, through a systematic process we can rate the alternatives as to the best ones or the most viable university. Then we must rate the risk of each alternative, for every alternative has inherent risks, like if we prefer this university but is more expensive etc. The lesser the risks the better it is supposed to be, but this would depend on one’s personality, the degree of our tolerance for risks. Finally, we can make a decision.To develop and improve our decision-making skills, we can follow a number of strategies as proposed by Harris (1998). Optimizing, is choosing the best possible solution to the problem, discovering as many alternatives as possible and choosing the very best. This can be used in deciding on matters like what coat to buy for winter, we can go to as many stores as we want to and decide on the best material, price and design. Maximizing the maximum is a strategy that focuses on evaluating and then choosing the best alternative based on their maximum pay-offs.

This can be used in making decisions about the best possible cable deal offered to us. ConclusionAdvanced thinking skills are tools that we need to harness and develop. But before we can do that is to be able to know what it is and what it is not. Form this discussion we are able to recognize that we are indeed making use of this tolls but not optimizing its effectiveness. There are also several ways we can improve or develop these skills, but the central theme to every skill is that we must constantly use it and consciously make an effort of using it in our lives. The unifying core of creative thinking, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making is that it is a systematic way of thinking, it is organized and planned as opposed to haphazard and spontaneous thinking. Much is to be gained by applying advance thinking skills in our lives.

 Strategies for Developing Advance Thinking SkillsCreative ThinkingTitle: Breaking NewsObjectives: This strategy can stimulate a person’s creativity by writing stories. Mechanics:Pick up a few copies of some of the outrageous tabloids available near most grocery store check out counters and three of the more popular publications. Cut out some of the more provocative headlines and throw away the accompanying stories, or you can make your own headlines.Place the headlines in a box or large envelope and have each participant pick one.Suggest to the participants that they are to pretend to be reporters and they have to create a story pertaining to the headline assigned to them.Have the participants read to the group their stories.JustificationThis activity uses the method of direct instruction, participants are asked to create a story out of a headline they presumably do not have an idea about.

By asking participants to be creative, they are lead to explore their creativity and has a concrete evidence to prove that they had been creative.Critical ThinkingTitle: Reaction Guide Objectives: This strategy can motivate participants to use critical thinking skills by expressing their opinions on timely issues.Mechanics:Before starting a session or giving input to participants about relevant social issues construct a before and after reaction guide to thought-provoking questions concerning the social issues you want to tackle.Distribute a copy of this guide to each participant and working with a partner, they should take turns reading each statement and putting a (+) to show agreement and (-) to show disagreement. The participants should be encouraged to discuss with their partners the reasons for their responses.

Collect the responses.Proceed to the input or lecture phase. Give participants ample time to gather information about the issue.After which, ask participants to meet with their partners again and discuss the statements. They should be able to find evidence to support their answers and to explain whether they have changed their views.A large group discussion of the issue statements can then follow.JustificationThis strategy asks participants to think about the way they think.

The activity demonstrates the elements of critical thinking, asking questions, gathering information, and logical reasoning. Further, it develops critical thinking because it shows participants that they can arrive at better conclusions or opinions of what to believe in when they use this skill. Problem-Solving Title: Tic-Tac-Toe with a Twist! Objectives: This strategy is useful for developing concentration and problem solving skills. MechanicsDistribute copies of a tic-tac-toe that has a geometric design or pattern. You can refer to geometry books for inspiration but make sure that it allows nine possible solutions for aligning three O’s or X’s instead of the traditional eight possibilities.Ask participants to work on the puzzle on their own for 5 minutes.

Have participants explain to the group how they completed the grid and what strategy they used at arriving at a solution.JustificationThis activity gives participants the opportunity to make us of their problem-solving skills. The untraditional tic-tac-toe puzzle may be simple but completing it would require that participants think out of the box. By discussing the strategies participants used to complete the puzzle would also tell them that there are different ways to approach a problem and to arrive at a solution.  List, define and explain advance thinking skills                                                                                                                   Page #10 Decision-Making Title: Bag of Goodies! Objective: This strategy is designed to increase participants’ decision-making skills. MechanicsPrepare four groups of three paper bags and place different things in it only one bag will contain have goodies in it. Place the bags at the center of the room where everyone can see it.Group participants into 4’s and have them pick a representative.

The representatives will then be asked to choose the bag that they want within 2 minutes from the group of bags assigned to them.After two minutes, ask the participants to open the bags that they chose and to look at what’s inside.Have the participants discuss with each other the process by which the representative made his/her decision. Make sure to focus on the decision-making process rather than the outcome of the decision.JustificationThis activity demonstrates the different ways people make their decisions. Participants would be able to learn that a decision made hastily can lead to negative consequences and that to ensure a positive outcome, people should be systematic in the way they arrive at decisions.

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