Thinking Skills

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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It's a little strange to imagine thinking skills the way one thinks of musical skills or athletic skills. In both scenarios, however, individuals must learn and practice their tools to achieve their ends, whether it's publishing an argumentative essay, playing a concerto, or hitting a home run. Let these skills get rusty (or never learn them in the first place), and you stand little chance of achieving your aim.

Lots of self-help adherents pump their time and money into things like daily affirmations, speed reading drills, memory exercises, and so forth. Others focus their efforts on visualization, actualization, and other "new-age" principles. Fewer people, however, actively think about new ways of thinking. Instead, they're content using the same old tricks and tips their teachers taught them back in grade school, even though the material they're now confronting is much more sophisticated than that of most children's books.

New Thinking Skills

New jobs and new responsibilities call for new kinds of thinking skills. One may no longer be able to think linearly about problems as he or she did in the past. Instead, abstract thought may prove essential to problem solving. Instead of focusing on pulling a lever faster or hitting a button more rapidly, workers may be called upon to replace that lever or button with a more efficient mechanism. Those who can move ahead; those who cannot continue to pull and press levers and buttons.

In the jargon of our day, these thinking skills are often referred to as thinking "outside the box," a phrase that's grown tired and trite. In fact, it probably won't be long before some dynamic thinker or wordsmith introduces a replacement term, which itself will grow stale in a few short years. The point here is that facts are rigid and concrete things, while the ability to manipulate, interpret, and analyze them is progressive and, therefore, often more valuable.


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