Critical-thinking skills exercises help a person to understand the reasons for one's beliefs and actions. According to OpenCourseWare in Critical Thinking, critical and creative thinking are the two basic thinking skills. Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, whereas creativity is a matter of coming up with new and useful possibilities. Both are crucial for solving problems and discovering new knowledge. Examples of critical-thinking exercises include brain teasers, logic puzzles and values analysis exercises.
Brain teasers stimulate thinking. Critical thinking always requires attention to details. The following brain teaser from Sharp Brains includes instructions and the answer. Marie, Claude, and Jean are in a competition. Here are their results: 1.The youngest person received the least points. 2.Claude got half of the points of the eldest. 3.Jean received as many points as both others combined. Who is the eldest? This puzzle uses planning and reasoning skills. Read the statements. Then develop a plan to solve the problem using reasoning skills found predominantly in the brain's prefrontal cortex. This area of your brain is responsible for executive functions such as planning and evaluating voluntary, goal-directed behavior. Solution: Start with the second statement. Claude is not the eldest. So the eldest must be either Marie or Jean. According to the third statement, Jean received the sum of the other two people's points, and those point totals are not equal. The first statement states that the youngest has fewer points than the other two. If Jean is the eldest, Claude and Marie each have half of the points Jean has. But they cannot have the same amount of points. Therefore, Jean must have the most points, and Claude must be the youngest, but Marie is the eldest.
Logic puzzles require deductive reasoning or the process of elimination. They also hone critical-thinking skills, because you must concentrate on the details of the puzzle. Sudoku and Sudoku variants, such as Pic-a-Pix are classic and popular logic puzzles. Sudoku is a logic puzzle that deals with numbers. Pic-a-Pix are picture logic puzzles. Other number puzzles include Hitori and SlitherLink. Fill-a-Pix and Maze-a-Pix are other picture puzzles.
Practice critical thinking by applying reason to values. According to OpenCourseWare in Critical Thinking, moral claims are statements about right and wrong, good and bad, or what might or might not be valuable. Learn to identify moral claims. Examples of moral claims include "It was wrong for Sam to lie" and "Mozart is a greater composer than Beethoven." When you learn to distinguish between normative and descriptive claims, you learn your own and others' values. Practice answering why you believe a statement is true or false to support a statement's claims.
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