15 Ways to Improve Critical Thinking Skills — Part 3 of 3

The disclaimer and definition of “critical thinking” used in Part 1 of this 3-part series apply to this post as well.

My Strategy to Improving Critical Thinking Skills (Continued)

When I first thought about writing 15 Ways to Improve Critical Thinking, I imagined all 15 methods fitting into a single post. However, there was so much content I wanted to share about the methods I used to improve my critical thinking, I had to divide the content into three posts (five methods per post). You can read the first part by clicking here and the second part by clicking here.

2014-0109 Chess Board11. Play board games – There may be a few places (hospitals, therapy centers, etc.) where you can play board games at no charge, but you will need to spend a little money if you want to purchase a board game. I enjoy any game in which you have to use limited resources (partial information or the letters, numbers, colors, or symbols in your hand) to win such as Boggle, Clue, Othello, Rummy, Scrabble, and similar games. I also like strategy games such as chess and Battleship, and to a lesser degree, strategy games that require the use of dice or spinners such as backgammon, Monopoly, and Life.

12. Go Window Shopping – I don’t know if the problem was the result of brain cancer or the surgery, chemo, and radiation required to stop the spread of brain cancer. Regardless, I had a difficult time remembering the name of common objects, the location where I could purchase items, the cost of everything, and the items included in a simple recipe. I am no longer frustrated by these activities, but I owe my recovery to a simple and free activity – window shopping.

2014-0109 Carrot TreeI recall going shopping for little green trees because I could not remember the word “broccoli.” I remember thinking carrots grew on trees and one carrot cost the same as a pound of fish because an average carrot weighed a pound. Similarly, a potato must cost the same as a can of soup because potatoes and cans of soup are roughly the same size. The fact that potatoes come in many sizes was a complete shock to me. I saw a bag of baby carrots and remember being sad because the baby carrots were taken from their parents at such a young age. I recall thinking a nice pair of men’s running shoes was $20 and a nice pair of women’s dress shoes must be about the same price. I also recall challenging my therapist about the cruelty of asking me to estimate the price of something, such as women’s dress shoes, I had never purchased.

13. Create routes for walking, hiking, driving, and flying – Regardless of whether you plan2014-0109 Map of New Zeland to walk, hike, drive, or fly, you should have a general sense of locations, directions, altitudes, and distances. I don’t recall having a problem with locations, directions, or distances, but I’ll share a free strategy my therapist used. Pick any map and use a finger to trace a route between two or more locations. Perhaps, the only route by car requires traveling three blocks north, six blocks east, and two blocks south.  Walking to the same location may require you walk five blocks to the north east.

You could even answer questions based on locations, directions, altitudes, and distances. For example:

  • Is the Canadian province, Manitoba, east or west of the Canadian province Ontario?
  • If you are traveling south through North Dakota, is Montana to your left or right?
  • If you are traveling east through China, where is Mongolia?
  • Is the highest point in Egypt higher or lower than the highest point in Brazil?
  • If it were possible to travel on the equator, and you traveled 12,000 miles (approximately 20,000 kilometers) on the equator, how many times would you have circled the Earth?

14. Create titles for pictures

Years ago, the Orange County Register held a contest it called “Dreamscape.” I don’t recall if the contest was held daily, weekly, monthly, or at some random interval. What I do recall is the Register published a picture and asked its readers to write a short story about the picture. The best short story won, as long as the story conformed to contest rules. I don’t recall submitting a story, but I do recall creating titles, themes, and stories for pictures I found. If you would like to see examples, please click one or both of the following links: “Where Do I Go From Here” and “Flying Baby.”

15. Read stories and create alternate endings

I probably began changing story endings because I could not recall the actual endings. Nonetheless, I realized thinking about alternate endings caused me to also think about plausible and implausible situations, practical and impractical solutions, and connections an author may have overlooked intentionally or unintentionally. I touch on these issues in the post titled “The Three Bears.”

Click here to read another Beyond Injury post.

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