I have always thought of myself as an intelligent person. I liked to solve puzzles, do crosswords and deal with different tasks that required some intellectual effort. Furthermore, I regarded myself as one who could help other people to solve their problems too. I was ready to give them wise pieces of advice hoping it would help them change their lives for the better. I knew what to say when people were arguing, I knew what to do when someone lost their money, and it seemed to me I knew solutions to all kinds of problems. How did I know all that? I felt I was clever enough always to make good choices and right decisions. Now, I realize how wrong I was. When I faced the challenge of becoming a critical thinker, I realized how humble I really was. That was the first time in my life when I had felt doubt in the adequacy of my own thinking. Thus, the assessment of my reasoning became the first stage of my personal development in the real world.
To start with, I saw what intellectual humility was (Spiegel, 2012). I realized that I was an arrogant thinker, and I could not admit I was wrong in any case. I was likely to insist on facts I was not fully confident about. For example, I thought that majority of people in Africa did not have a good healthcare system and therefore they treat everything with herbs. Later, I saw that I did not really know anything about the African healthcare system. Therefore, I started searching for some information about it on the Internet. To my surprise, the reality was completely different from my notion It appeared that there are different doctors in Africa, and they have a good medical education. Rarely do they treat their patients with herbs. Then I saw that I was egocentric in my thinking. I wanted to prove I was right just for the sake of my pleasure. I saw that my intellectual arrogance was my weakness, so I started working on it. Now intellectual humility is the primary value I rely on to guide my thinking.
Next, I learned about different stages of development and understood that I was not an advanced thinker at all. Reflections forced me to admit I was no farther than stage 2, a challenged thinker, according to a Stage Theory (Paul & Elder, 2013). I recognized my ignorance and the limits of my knowledge. I comprehended that I could not be Mister Know-it-all. I had to admit I made questionable assumptions, used incomplete information, and failed to recognize problems I had. I realized how prejudiced I was against the world. For example, I thought that all young mothers were obsessed with their children. I avoided speaking to mothers anywhere in the street because I expected nothing but talks about their sweeties. However, one of my cousins gave birth to a child, and I had to visit her. Our meeting did not meet any of my expectations. My cousin appeared to be a very open-minded person. She wanted to talk about the latest smartphones, her trip to Egypt and the peculiarities of making pizza with pineapples. It became a revelation to me. I realized my bias against the reality, so I reviewed my faulty concepts. I no longer wanted to think egocentrically and irrationally.
Now, critical thinking means a lot to me. I realized that being arrogant and biased could be harmful to me and to the people around me. Besides, I now analyze information from different sources and people. I watch television more carefully and scrutinize what I read in the blogs. I see now that we all should be somewhat skeptical about what we see, hear and know (Unger, 2000). I would like to improve my thinking skills and avoid the mistakes I have previously made.
I really want to move to the next level of critical thinking, to the beginning thinker. I am not sure if I will become an advanced thinker, but I strive to achieve this goal. Now I think two times before I say something. I try to avoid telling things I am not knowledgeable about. For example, I do not argue with the salesperson with technical education which batteries are better.
This course has positively influenced my everyday life. I moved one step forward to becoming a fair-minded critical thinker. I apply much more positive thinking about other people than I used to. Now I am not angry when someone disagrees with me. I became more tolerant to the opinions that differ from mine. When I realized I was not perfect and my thinking was not perfect, I became more tolerant to human flaws.
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At the same time, I should admit that this course did not influence my moral beliefs. When I believe some behavior is immoral, I cannot tolerate it. When someone tries to prove that cheating is good as long as no one is hurt, I cannot accept it. To me, cheating is morally wrong in any case. I know, there is no rational explanation of my beliefs and they are more to do with my emotions. I just feel that being faithful is the right thing to do. Hence, I have to admit, it is difficult to separate emotions from the issues that are heavily based on belief systems.
Even though I think so, I appreciate what I learned during this course very much. When I accepted the challenge of becoming a critical thinker, it changed my world view. I had to reconsider it and admit to my faults. In my opinion, that is the first step to becoming a better thinker and a better person.