Critical and creative thinking are two different ways of processing information but they can be used together and work well when combined.
Critical thinking allows you to evaluate the ideas that your creative thoughts have come up with.
The critical thinker gathers information, analyzes it and evaluates it.
If you think critically you are able to separate fact from opinion. Creative thinkers tend to be imaginative and like to brainstorm.
One of the leading researchers in the area, Robert Sternberg, characterizes creativity as “a decision to buy low and sell high in the world of ideas.” While this is itself a creative approach to the problem of defining creativity, it is not a solution easily translated into a rubric.
Definitions of critical thinking don’t fare much better.
comes into clearer focus when we recognize it as a creative act that enriches understanding by giving rise to something that wasn’t there before.
What does this symbiotic relationship look like in the classroom?
According to one group of researchers, “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” Again, a curiously self-demonstrating definition, but not one ready-made for the classroom.
Generally speaking, creativity is associated with generating ideas, while critical thinking is associated with judging them.