Systemic Change Requires Critical Thinking

by | Dec 21, 2016 | Formation, Systemic change

When I came across an infographic designed to teach how to think through situations it struck me as helpful in our efforts to work toward long-range projects that go beyond the necessary first aid measures. It also reminded me that  Vincent was a critical thinker who instinctively raised radical questions.  If we are to take seriously St. John Paul II’s challenge to Vincentians about finding long-term solutions we need to develop critical thinking skills.

During the audience of June 30, 1986, John Paul II quite pointedly asked:

“more than ever and with audacity, humility and competence, investigate the causes of poverty. Stimulate both their long and short term solutions, solutions which are concrete, variable and efficacious. In doing this, you are cooperating in the credibility of the Gospel and of the Church. But, without looking ahead, live close to the poor and act in such a way that they might never be deprived of the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

Unfortunately, not many of us have been trained to ask the kinds of questions that lead to systemic change solutions.

As mentioned in a previous article found by clicking here, if we wish to seek long-term solutions we need develop our critical thinking habits.
In school we were all taught to ask Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.

The folks at Global Digital Citizens offer this Critical Thinking Skills cheatsheet which includes categories for Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Each section has eight questions that begin with their corresponding word. The questions are meant to be versatile and broad, and applicable to a range of topics.

In these questions, you’ll find great potential conversation starters and new ways of thinking about intractable problems and possible long-range solutions. That said, this is obviously not a definitive list! Let them inspire you to come up with your own questions for critical thinking skill building.

Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet for Printing

You can grab an 11×17 PDF file of the Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet for quick and easy printing. Download an 11×17 color PDF of the infographic right here.

We really hope you enjoy this cheatsheet. Use it to build solid critical thinking habits and skills and uncover unexpected approaches to systemic change.