Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think. Whenever I hear people say creative and critical thinking, my mind automatically thinks about Elbert Einstein, the owner of this quote. He was a physicist who created the theory of relativity. Every time I think about him my mind will display an image of Elbert Einstein sticking out his tongue and another quote of his will appear in my head, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” I find him as a good model for creative and critical thinking. He is indeed very creative by having the mind to imagine and create new things but at the same time applies critical thinking in evaluating and analyzing the science of physics. He is certainly an inspiration to me when it comes to creative and critical thinking.
According to Feldman (2013), thinking can be defined as the manipulation of mental representations of information. Creative thinking and critical thinking are two different things, but both involve the mental process of thinking. Despite being two different components, they are both interrelated in a way. Treffinger (2008) stated that creative thinking comprises of searching for meaningful new connections by creating many unusual, original, and diverse possibilities, as well as details that expand or enhance possibilities. Meanwhile, critical thinking involves examining possibilities thoroughly, fairly, and constructively, focusing thoughts and actions by organizing and analyzing potential outcomes, refining and developing the most promising results, ranking or prioritizing options, and choosing certain choices. In short, we can say that creative thinking is the process of generating new ideas or concepts while critical thinking is the process of serious thinking using the components of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
I would like to go through what I have learned in creative thinking first and then critical thinking next. In creative thinking, I have learned that there are specific characteristics of creative people. Firstly, creative people are energetic but focused. They have the powerful energy to be used physically and mentally to think, create ideas, reflect, and make it happen. Next, creative people are smart but naïve. They can maintain their sense of curiosity and look at the world with fresh eyes. In addition, they are playful yet disciplined. Displaying their playful attitude, creative people are at the same time determined and persistent in achieving their vision. Furthermore, creative people are realistic dreamers because they can imagine possibilities that are beyond their minds and create them into reality. Other characteristics include having balance in being extroverted and introverted, feeling proud yet modest, conservative yet rebellious, and being passionate but objective about their work.
To be honest, I admit that I consider myself a creative person. Reflecting this upon myself since the first day I entered UTM, I noticed that I have demonstrated most of these characteristics. First, I am always curious and asking questions. In terms of assignments, I ask people for ideas and we brainstorm together to create something fresh and new. I am also playful but determined to achieve things that I have imagined. For instance, I played around with my imagination and creativity to create a storyboard for our Science and Technology Thinking class. We managed to produce an impressive storyboard that amazed our peers. On top of that, I am also aware that I am well-balanced between introvert and extrovert after taking the test that was conducted by Dr. Mastura Mahfar in her creative thinking class. Furthermore, I always have realistic dreams and strive to make them happen. For example, I strived to produce a creative video that will fascinate people who watch it for my Social Psychology class. Moreover, I am really passionate when doing a job and conscious of my objectives. For instance, when doing my proposal assignment for Graduate Success Attribute, I used my creativity to create a fun program proposal with my friends. We were really passionate about doing it that we felt like we were organizing a real program.
Through creative thinking, I have learned that being creative is a skill that you can develop and enhance through time. Creative thinking enables you to imagine and think of a new perspective in solving problems. It helps you use your imagination to the fullest and create new products and inventions. Creative thinking also helps a lot in 21st-century learning. Reflecting on this on myself, I realized that I have been using creative thinking in many situations at UTM. For instance, I had to use creative thinking in Dr. Mastura Mahfar’s creativity class where we had to think of how to modify existing things into new ones with advanced functions. I also used creative thinking when doing mind maps for Developmental Psychology class. On top of that, I also applied my creative thinking when we had to do roleplays in Industrial and Organizational Psychology class.
Moving on to the next type of thinking skill which is critical thinking, I learned that critical thinking consists of several characteristics as well. First, critical thinkers are open-minded. They are willing to hear other’s opinions to weigh the most promising option. They are more than happy to hear ideas to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the best suggestion of a problem. Next, critical thinkers study the whole situation in detail. They will ask questions to get the whole picture before making decisions and proposing solutions. On top of that, critical thinking creates thinkers who look for varied choices rather than limiting themselves to only one option. They are able to provide a couple of ways in case some did not work. Critical thinkers also use credible sources as references to create a new solution to a problem. In addition, critical thinkers will take a position and justifies it. They will provide reasons and clarification of why a decision is made and why it is for the best. Furthermore, critical thinkers are highly sensitive to the feelings of others. They are smart to figure out if something is off and will try their best to accommodate a solution that will be the most satisfying for everyone.
I have demonstrated some of these critical thinking characteristics for the whole 3 months that I have been in UTM. Firstly, I am open-minded in receiving others’ opinions during discussion. I love it when people contribute their ideas which allow us to find the perfect solution. Next, I always study the whole situation first. For instance, I have once left my keys inside my room and could not get in. I analyze the situation and try reaching my roommate. Unfortunately, she was not around, and she said that she will be back late. I asked a senior for the options that I have. After weighing the pros and cons and considering all the choices that I have, I found the ultimate solution to go borrow the keys from the office. Hence, my problem was solved. In addition, I also use credible sources, especially when doing citations for my assignments. I search for reliable references to depend on when doing my work. Moreover, I am always aware of others’ feelings. For instance, when becoming the leader of a group assignment, I try to weigh everyone’s preferences and distribute the workload accordingly that will bring satisfaction to everyone in the group.
Based on critical thinking, I have learned that this skill requires us to remember basic concepts, understand ideas, applying information, analyzing options, evaluate decisions, and create a solution. This thinking skill is important to help us find the best solution while providing us the ability to find more ideas. Critical thinking is also crucial in 21st-century learning because it enables students to think critically in learning new things without limiting the mind. Critical thinking will definitely help university students in managing their time and schedule, providing solutions to their daily problems, and also allowing them to make the best decision on the smallest issue such as buying a bus ticket home to bigger ones like preparing for the final year project. In conclusion, both creative and critical thinking are important for us human beings to survive in life. Wechsler et al. (2018) said that their research found that both creative and critical thinking are needed to enhance problem-solving abilities. Hence, as university students, we must have both critical and creative thinking skills in balance in order to succeed.