The Hun School of Princeton

15 Questions that Teachers and Parents Can Ask Kids to Encourage Critical Thinking

Each student walks across the graduation stage, diploma in one hand and a proverbial toolbox in the other. Inside the box is every skill and piece of knowledge they've learned throughout their childhood. The contents of this toolbox will be their building blocks to success beyond high school.

In addition to impressive classroom discoveries — like producing electricity from potatoes or building their own paper mache volcano — there's a vital skill every student should possess: critical thinking. They'll use this skill to assess, critique, and create, propelling them to thrive in the real world as they participate in engaging conversations and offer constructive solutions to real-world issues.

Fortunately, this valuable skill can be developed both inside and out of the classroom. Teachers and parents can encourage kids to think deeply and critically about the world by asking good questions. We'll explore why, as parents and teachers, the questions we ask our kids matter — and what we can be asking to help them excel.

How Questions Guide Young Students’ Critical Thinking 

Critical thinking is about so much more than simply knowing the facts. Thinking critically involves applying reason and logic to assess arguments and come to your own conclusions. Instead of reciting facts or giving a textbook answer, critical thinking skills encourage students to move beyond knowing information and get to the heart of what they really think and believe. 

15 Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking

What is one of the best ways to encourage critical thinking? By asking excellent questions! 

We have compiled a list of 15 questions that you, as a teacher or parent, can ask to encourage kids to think outside the box. Let's dive in.

1. How Do You Know This? 

Whether it was by word of mouth, classroom knowledge, or a news report, this question prompts students to consider whether their source of information is reputable.

2. How Would Your Perspective Be Different If You Were on the Opposing Side?

This question encourages kids to role-play from an opposing person’s viewpoint and discover a perspective outside their own so that they can better understand the broader situation. Extracurriculars like debate class — mandatory for all Hun middle school students — is a powerful way to accomplish this goal, as students must thoughtfully anticipate their opposition's arguments in order to counter them.

3. How Would You Solve This Problem?

Finding creative solutions to common problems is a valuable life skill. This question is the perfect opportunity to encourage young minds to wander!

4. Do You Agree or Disagree — and Why?

Choosing a side in any debate challenges students to consider both perspectives, weigh the arguments, and make an informed choice. 

5. Why? Why? Why?

Just like when you were a young kid, ask why repeatedly to push students beyond a simple first, second, or even third answer, to get to the real depth. Be careful, though, not to ask them to the point of frustration — you want learning and exploring to be a positive experience.

6. How Could We Avoid This Problem in the Future?

Ask students to apply critical thinking by analyzing how they could prevent a certain issue from reoccurring.

7. Why Does It Matter?

Whether they're learning about a historical event or a mathematical concept, it's important to understand why the topic is relevant today.

8. What's Another Way to Look at This Issue?

It can be easy to learn one worldview and automatically believe it is the only, or the best, way. Challenging kids to think of a creative alternate perspective encourages them to think more broadly.

9. Can You Give Me an Example?

Inventing an example, or pulling from experience to share a real one, is an excellent way to apply critical thinking skills.

10. How Could It Have Ended Differently?

It takes some innovation and careful analysis to storyboard a different ending, considering "what could have been" rather than "what is." 

11. When Will We Be Able to Tell If It Worked?

Kids will be pushed to consider what constitutes success and how it can be measured in scenarios where the results aren't set in stone.

12. Why did you ask that question?

Instead of answering a question at face value, this question encourages kids to think about what the merits of the question may be.

13. Who Would Be Affected by This?

Students as the next generation of leaders and game-changers. When making any decision, it's important to consider who will be impacted and how.

14. What Can This Story Teach Us About Our Own Lives?

From literature to social studies, students interact with all kinds of different stories. Help them take these narratives one step further by examining how it relates to their lives.

15. Why Is This a Problem?

Analyzing why something is a problem — rather than just accepting that it is — will help students develop strong problem-solving skills of their own.

The Hun School of Princeton Teaches Critical Thinking

At the Hun School of Princeton, our teachers ask these questions, and more, in combination with our student-centered learning approach that helps kids of all ages think critically about what they’re learning. 

As a premier private school in Princeton, NJ , we aim to help students think deeply and develop well-rounded skill sets through immersive, problem-based learning . 

Schedule a tour today to see our program in action!

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Ideas, Inspiration, and Giveaways for Teachers

We Are Teachers

100+ Critical Thinking Questions for Students To Ask About Anything

Critical thinkers question everything.

WeAreTeachers Staff

In an age of “fake news” claims and constant argument about pretty much any issue, critical thinking skills are key. Teach your students that it’s vital to ask questions about everything, but that it’s also important to ask the right sorts of questions. Students can use these critical thinking questions with fiction or nonfiction texts. They’re also useful when discussing important issues or trying to understand others’ motivations in general.

“Who” Critical Thinking Questions

Questions like these help students ponder who’s involved in a story and how the actions affect them. They’ll also consider who’s telling the tale and how reliable that narrator might be.

critical thinking questions list

critical thinking questions list

“What” Critical Thinking Questions

Ask questions that explore issues more deeply, including those that might not be directly answered in the text.

critical thinking questions list

critical thinking questions list

critical thinking questions list

“Where” Critical Thinking Questions

Think about where the story is set and how it affects the actions. Plus, consider where and how you can learn more.

critical thinking questions list

“When” Critical Thinking Questions

Think about timing and the effect it has on the characters or people involved.

critical thinking questions list

critical thinking questions list

“Why” Critical Thinking Questions

Asking “why” might be one of the most important parts of critical thinking. Exploring and understanding motivation helps develop empathy and make sense of difficult situations.

critical thinking questions list

critical thinking questions list

“How” Critical Thinking Questions

Use these questions to consider how things happen and whether change is possible.

critical thinking questions list

critical thinking questions list

More Critical Thinking Questions

Here are more questions to help probe further and deepen understanding.

critical thinking questions list

critical thinking questions list

What are your favorite critical thinking questions? Come exchange ideas on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, check out 10 tips for teaching kids to be awesome critical thinkers ..

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critical thinking questions list

85 Fun Critical Thinking Questions for Kids & Teens

students laughing as they answer critical thinking questions

Have you ever thought about using fun questions to practice critical thinking?

Students may need a little guidance to think their way through questions that lack straightforward answers.

But it is that process that is important!

How the Right Questions Encourage Critical Thinking

Every parent knows how natural it is for children to ask questions. 

It should be encouraged. After all, asking questions helps with critical thinking.

As they grow older, however, training them to answer questions can be equally beneficial.

Posing questions that encourage kids to analyze, compare, and evaluate information can help them develop their ability to think critically about tough topics in the future. 

Of course, critical thinking questions for kids need to be age-appropriate—even better if you can mix a little fun into it!

That’s what I hope to help you with today. I’ve organized the questions below into three different ages groups:

20 Questions: Exercises in Critical Thinking

Get a Question-Based Critical Thinking Exercise—Free!

Introduce critical thinking gently & easily with thought-provoking exercises.

Upper Elementary

Students in upper elementary grades can be reluctant to put themselves out there, especially with answers that seem weird. 

In some cases, such hesitancy is actually fear of differing from their peers (and a barrier to critical thinking ). 

But that’s exactly why it’s important to practice answering ambiguous questions. 

We want our children to stand firm for their beliefs—not cave to peer pressure. 

Additionally, students may feel uneasy about answering serious questions, uncertain of tackling “big” problems. 

However, with careful use of creative questions for kids, it’s possible to engage even the most reluctant children in this age group. 

The idea is to simply get them interested in the conversation and questions asked.

If you have an especially reserved student, try starting with the funny critical thinking questions. 

Humor is a natural icebreaker that can make critical thinking questions more lighthearted and enjoyable. 

Of course, most younger kids just like to be silly, so playing upon that can keep them active and engaged.

With that said, here are some great questions to get you started:

1. Someone gives you a penguin. You can’t sell it or give it away. What do you do with it?

2. What would it be like if people could fly?

3. If animals could talk, what question would you ask? 

4. If you were ice cream, what kind would you be and why?

5. Do you want to travel back in time? If yes, how far back would you go? If no, why not?

6. What could you invent that would help your family? 

7. If you could stay up all night, what would you do?

8. What does the man on the moon do during the day?

9. What makes something weird or normal? 

10. Can you describe the tastes “salty” and “sweet” without using those words?

11. What does it feel like to ride a rollercoaster?

12. What makes a joke funny?

13. What two items would you take if you knew you would be stranded on an island and why?

14. Do you have a favorite way of laughing?

15. What noise makes you cringe and cover your ears? Why?

16. If you could be the parent for the day, what would you do?

17. If you could jump into your favorite movie and change the outcome, which one would you pick and why?

18. If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

19. What makes a day “perfect”?

20. If you owned a store, what kind of products would you sell?

21. If your parents were your age, would you be friends with them?

22. Would you still like your favorite food if it tasted the same as always, but now had an awful smell?

23. What would you do if you forgot to put your shoes on before leaving home?

24. Who would you be if you were a cartoon character?

25. How many hot dogs do you think you could eat in one sitting?

26. If you could breathe under water, what would you explore?

27. At what age do you think you stop being a kid?

28. If you had springs in your legs, what would you be able to do?

29. Can you describe the color blue to someone if they’re blind?

Middle School

At this point, students start to acquire more complex skills and are able to form their own conclusions based on the information they’re given. 

However, we can’t expect deep philosophical debates with 12 and 13 year olds. 

That said, as parent-teachers, we can certainly begin using more challenging questions to help them examine and rationalize their thought processes. 

Browse the fun critical thinking questions below for students in this age range. 

You might be surprised to see how receptive middle school kids can be to such thought-provoking (yet still fun) questions .

30. What would happen if it really did rain cats and dogs?

31. What does it mean to be lucky?

32. If you woke up in the middle of a dream, where would you be?

33. Is it ever okay to lie? Why or why not?

34. If you were solely responsible for creating laws, what one law would you make?

35. What makes a person a good friend?

36. What do you think is the most important skill you can take into adulthood?

37. If you had to give up lunch or dinner, which would you choose? Why?

38. How much money would you need to be considered rich?

39. If you knew you wouldn’t get caught, would you cheat on a test?

40. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

41. What is your greatest strength? How is that an asset?

42. If you had an opportunity to visit the International Space Station, would you do it?

43. Is it better to keep the peace or speak your mind?

44. Imagine yourself as your favorite animal. How would you spend your day?

45. Would you be friends with someone who didn’t have the same values as you?

46. How much screen time do you think is too much?

47. Can you describe your favorite color without naming it?

48. If you suddenly became blind, would you see things differently?

49. Would you ever go skydiving?

50. Describe the time you were the happiest in your life. Why did this make you happy?

51. If you had a million dollars, what would you do?

52. If you had to move to a new city, would you change how you present yourself to others?

53. What do you need to do in order to be famous?

54. If you could rewrite the ending of your favorite book or movie, what changes would you make?

55. How would you tackle a huge goal?

56. How would you sell ice to an eskimo in Alaska successfully?

57. What makes you unique?

High School

Critical thinking takes on an entirely different role once students reach high school. 

At this age, they have a greater sense of right and wrong (and what makes things so) as well as a better understanding of the world’s challenges.

Guiding teens to delve deeper and contemplate such things is an important part of developing their reasoning and critical thinking skills. 

critical thinking questions list

Whether it’s fun questions about hypothetical superpowers or tough critical thinking questions about life, older teens typically have what it takes to think their way to a logical conclusion . 

Of course, use your discernment as you choose discussion topics, but here are some questions to help get you started:

58. How can you avoid [common problem] in the future?

59. Do you think it’s okay to take a life in order to save 5, 10, 20 or more people?

60. If you could go back and give your younger self advice, what would it be?

61. Is it better to give or receive a gift?

62. How important is it to be financially secure? Why?

63. If it was up to you, what one rule would you change in your family?

64. What would you do if a group of friends wanted to do something that you thought was a bad idea?

65. How do you know that something is a fact rather than an opinion?

66. What would it take to get you to change your mind?

67. What’s the most important thing in your life?

68. If money were of no concern, what job would you choose and why?

69. How do you know if you’re happy?

70. Do you think euthanasia is moral?

71. What is something you can do today that you weren’t able to do a year ago?

72. Is social media a good thing or not?

73. Is it right to keep animals in a zoo?

74. How does your attitude affect your abilities?

75. What would you do if you found out a friend was doing something dangerous?

76. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?

77. What will life on Earth look like in 50 years?

78. Which is more important, ending world hunger or global warming?

79. Is it a good idea to lower the voting age to 16? Why or why not?

80. If the electrical power went out today, how would you cook if using wood wasn’t an option?

81. If you could magically transport yourself to any other place, where would that be and why?

82. When should teenagers be able to stay out all night?

83. Does the number zero actually exist?

84. What defines a generous person?

85. Does an influential person influence everyone?

Feel free to print out these fun critical thinking questions and incorporate them into your homeschool week!

critical thinking questions list

will your children recognize truth?

About the author.

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Jordan Mitchell



48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

What Are Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area?

by TeachThought Staff

Critical thinking is the heart and soul of learning, and–in our estimation anyway–ultimately more important than any one specific content area or subject matter.

It’s also an over-used and rather nebulous phrase — how do you teach someone to think? Of course, that’s the purpose of education, but how do you effectively optimize that concept into lasting knowledge and the ability to apply it broadly?

Looking for more resources to teach critical thinking? Check out our critical thinking curricula resources on TpT.

What Is Critical Thinking?

This question is what inspires the creation of seemingly endless learning taxonomies and teaching methods: our desire to pin down a clear definition of what it means to think critically and how to introduce that skill in the classroom.

This makes critical thinking questions–well, critical.  As Terry Heick explains in What Does Critical Thinking Mean?:

“To think critically about something is to claim to first circle its meaning entirely—to walk all the way around it so that you understand it in a way that’s uniquely you. The thinker works with their own thinking tools–schema. Background knowledge. Sense of identity. Meaning Making is a process as unique to that thinker as their own thumbprint. There is no template.

After circling the meaning of whatever you’re thinking critically about—navigation necessarily done with bravado and purpose—the thinker can then analyze the thing. In thinking critically, the thinker has to see its parts, its form, its function, and its context.

After this kind of survey and analysis you can come to evaluate it–bring to bear your own distinctive cognition on the thing so that you can point out flaws, underscore bias, emphasize merit—to get inside the mind of the author, designer, creator, or clockmaker and critique his work.”

A Cheat Sheet For Critical Thinking

In short, critical thinking is more than understanding something — it involves evaluation, critiquing, and a depth of knowledge that surpasses the subject itself and expands outward. It requires problem-solving, creativity, rationalization, and a refusal to accept things at face value.

It’s a willingness and ability to question everything.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Digital Thinking by Global Digital Citizen Foundation is an excellent starting point for the ‘how’ behind teaching critical thinking by outlining which questions to ask.

It offers 48 critical thinking questions useful for any content area or even grade level with a little re-working/re-wording. Enjoy the list!

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

ultimate cheatsheet for critical thinking

See Also:  28 Critical Thinking Question Stems & Response Cards

About The Author

Teachthought staff.

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critical thinking questions list

Questions to Provoke Critical Thinking

Varying question stems can sustain engagement and promote critical thinking. The timing, sequence and clarity of questions you ask students can be as important as the type of question you ask. The table below is organized to help formulate questions provoking gradually higher levels of thinking.

1 From Alison King, “Inquiring Minds Really Do Want to Know: Using Questioning to Teach Critical Thinking,” Teaching of Psychology 22 (1995): 14.

Develop Good Habits

85 Critical Thinking Questions to Carefully Examine Any Information

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The ability to think critically will often determine your success in life.

Let’s face it. Every day, we are bombarded by news, social media updates, and an avalanche of information. If you take all of this at face value, it’s easy to be deceived, misled or ripped off.

That’s why it’s important to  develop a mindset that focuses on critical thinking . This is a skill that needs to be developed in the classroom. But it’s also a valuable life skill.

With that in mind, the following post will share 85 critical thinking questions you can use to increase your awareness about different problems by carefully examining available information. 

Let’s get started…

Table of Contents

What Are Critical Thinking Questions?

Critical thinking questions are inquiries that help you think rationally and clearly by understanding the link between different facts or ideas. These questions create a seemingly endless learning process that lets you critique, evaluate, and develop a depth of knowledge about a given subject. Moreover, you get to reinforce your viewpoints or see things in a new way.

We make decisions every day, whether at work or home. Adopting logical, rational, and practical approaches in addressing various issues requiring critical thinking is essential in decision-making. Therefore, before arriving at a decision, always ask yourself relevant questions and carefully analyze the matter’s pros and cons.

Critical Thinking Questions When in an Argument

When you make an argument using a critical thinking approach, you focus on justified claims that are valid and based on evidence. It helps one establish a strong argument.

critical thinking questions | critical thinking questions examples with answers | fun critical thinking questions with answers

Critical Thinking Questions When Reading a Book 

When you read a book, you probably ask yourself many “why” questions. Why is this a problem? Why did the character say that? Why is this important? The most challenging part of reading a book is assessing the information you are reading. These questions can help.

Critical Thinking Questions to Spot a Scam

Asking questions when you feel that a fraud or a scam is being presented to you is a good way to stretch your critical thinking muscles. Are you being emailed or messaged by a stranger? Or maybe there are other red flags you are unsure about. If so, ask these questions.

Critical Thinking Questions About Your Life

It can also help to ask yourself a few critical thinking questions about your life. This way, you can gather basic information and uncover solutions to problems you might not have otherwise thought of.

critical thinking questions and answers pdf | critical thinking questions for students | critical thinking questions for adults

Critical Thinking Questions for a Debate or Discussion

When you are in the middle of a debate or discussion, you need to know that what you are saying is fact, have evidence to support your claim, and position yourself as an expert in what you are saying. Here are some critical thinking questions to ask when you are in a debate or discussion.

Critical Thinking Questions About Lying

Admitting when you are wrong, choosing not to cheat, and sharing constructive feedback are all ways to show your honesty. Here are some critical thinking skills to ask regarding lying.

Critical Thinking Questions When Presented With a Claim

Critical thinking is much more than just evaluating whether a claim is true or not. It also means a critical thinker reflects on what follows from true claims.

Critical Thinking Interview Questions

Critical thinking skills are valuable in any industry or field and for almost all roles. During a job interview, you will be asked questions so the potential employer can assess your skills and see how you use logic. Your critical thinking ability is just one vital part that can play into your professional development.

Critical Thinking Questions for Kids

We can’t leave the kids out either. Critical thinking questions for kids get them thinking and talking. It also allows a parent to get to know their child better.

What Are the Basic Principles of Critical Thinking?

Your critical thinking skills involve gathering complete information, understanding and defining terms, questioning the methods by which we get facts, questioning the conclusions, and looking for hidden assumptions and biases.

Additionally, we can’t expect to find all of the answers, and we need to take the time to examine the big picture of it all.

Here are the basic principles:

What Are Good Analysis Questions?

Analysis is a part of critical thinking that allows you to examine something carefully. Someone with analytical skills can examine the information presented, understand what that information means, and then properly explain that information to others. Analysis in critical thinking provides more clarity on the information you process.

When analyzing, you may ask yourself, “how do I know this,” how would I solve this problem,” and “why does it matter?”

Why Is Critical Thinking an Important Skill?

Critical thinking skills allow you to express thoughts, ideas, and beliefs in a better way. It also leads to improved communication while allowing others to understand you better. Critical thinking fosters creativity and encourages out-of-the-box thinking. This is a skill that can be applied to many different areas of your life.

For example, knowing the answers to critical thinking questions for a job interview will better prepare you for the interview. Many employers, during questioning, are likely to ask you critical thinking questions to assess if you have the ability to evaluate information effectively so you can make more informed decisions.

Final Thoughts on Critical Thinking Questions

Although it's common to get torn between making two or more choices, nobody wants to make the wrong decision. The only thing you can do to avoid this is use critical thinking questions to examine your situation. The answers to these questions will help you make informed decisions and help you comprehend crucial matters in your life. 

Want to learn more about critical thinking and decision-making using a real-life example? Here is  how Jeff Bezos uses critical thinking  to make some of the most challenging life decisions.

Finally, if you want to ask better questions, then watch this short, 20-minute course to learn how to have a great conversation with virtually anyone .

sample critical thinking questions | psychology critical thinking questions | critical thinking questions definition

9 Provoking Critical Thinking Questions to Ignite Deep Reflective Discourse

Ivaylo Durmonski

Besides radical skepticism. Critical thinking can be defined by these three questions:

Your ability to question a piece of incoming information. Doubt it, so you can come up with the best possible solution is more important than any certificate or diploma you’ll ever receive during your life.

Think about it.

In a typical company. People don’t hire other people to just stare at a screen and click buttons. If the job was to sit behind a monitor all day and tick random boxes. A company wouldn’t require a whole hiring team. Every corporation in need of staff would simply go outside the tall building they reside in and pick the first person passing by willing to sell his soul to the corporate regime.

No. What HRs are really interested in when they conduct interviews is this: They are trying to evaluate how you think.

Can you press the right buttons for the needed tools? Yes, surely they are looking for that, too. But more importantly, can you solve a challenge in an elegant way? Can you find your way out of a situation when things get sideways? Can you properly evaluate difficult cases and find the best possible solution without ruining the established systems and values?

These are the actual skills HR members are after.

Cognitive skills. Not mouse-clicking skills.

And while you can easily teach a smart person how to operate a particular software. What you can’t teach. Or at least will require a substantial amount of effort and nerves. Is to try to teach a dump person how to think properly.

But as I said in my recent post on how to improve critical thinking skills . We are systematically not challenged.

No matter the work you do – unless you work for NASA. Between 2 and 3 years. A job usually starts to feel like a venomous tonic of bitterness.

The repeated mundane tasks not only lead to a lack of drive. But also deteriorate your thinking.

If you happen to be in such an unchallenging and depressive state. Or if you are simply looking for ways to shake the cocktail of thoughts that circle inside your brain.

The following critical thinking questions will resurrect your enthusiasm and remove the rust from your gray matter.

Note: To better engage with the text. I highly recommend grabbing a notebook and answering the questions on paper. No rush. You can tackle them in the order you like. Also, don’t need to answer them all now. Tackle one question now and the rest when you have the time.

9 Provoking Questions to Foster Critical Thinking:

1. what are we absolutely sure is true, 2. what would my ideal life look like in x years, 3. if i had to write a book, what would it be about, 4. what’s the one thing i can do that will make everything else easier or even unnecessary, 5. what am i currently avoiding, 6. what kind of problems do i want in my life, 7. what can i learn from this person (or situation), 8. would could be, 9. what do i want to want.


The standard way we think about a problem or when we face a certain situation is to reason by analogy. We approach a situation looking at what someone else did to solve it. Then, we copy the solution and slightly adjust it to fit our case.

But a more sophisticated way to look at incoming situations is by reasoning based on first principles.

That’s precisely the question above: “What are we absolutely sure is true?”

For example, in an interview where Elon Musk talks about first principles. He explained that Tesla was able to become what it is – one of the largest companies that offers affordable electric cars. Not by doing what everyone else did with batteries – buy the expensive batteries and put them in a car. No, the Tesla team figured out what batteries are made of. What are their core materials? Once the team saw that the spot market value of these core materials is really cheap. They simply had to find a clever, and better way to assemble the pieces in a battery shape.

All of this means that when you are presented with a task. Don’t blindly copy what everyone around you is doing. Think about what is surely true. Then reason from there to find the best solution.


The second critical thinking question is: “What would my ideal life look like in X years?”

You can replace the X value with the number of years you fancy. But probably the prior question you should ask yourself is this: “What does my ideal life look like – in general?”

We rarely think in that direction. And even if we do. I don’t think we think enough about this.

If you ask yourself this question now. You’ll probably say something general like: Working a meaningful job; Traveling the world, etc., etc.

But what kind of job? Where do you want to travel?

What makes this question great is that it creates a series of sub-questions. Questions that are equally deep and challenging.

Additionally, you can tailor it to a product or for your job.

For example, “How do I imagine the best possible version of this product?” Or, “How do I imagine the perfect day in my day job?”


What makes this critical thinking question great is that it forces you to think about what you know. And more precisely, to try to package what you know in a volume. Furthermore, it will reveal what you value most.

If you think that you should write a business book. Then probably you value money. Or innovation more than anything else.

If your answer is a psychology book to understand human behavior , for example. Your interests are probably around the spectrum of understanding yourself along with others.


We are used to having endless to-do lists. We imagine that the more things we do. The more our value will increase.

Looking at the top companies in the world and the most successful athletes will show you otherwise.

The best in the business are not good at everything. They are masters of one specific category.

For instance, a basketball player is superb at playing basketball. Does that mean that he’s good with math? He can be. But probably he is not. Surely, though, he’s doing OK in life.

The point is to figure out what one thing you should focus on that can remove things from your list of tasks and help you achieve better results.

And this question can be applied to everything:


Do you avoid talking about an important topic with your spouse? Do you avoid changing your career? Are you purposely drowning yourself in endless social media posts to avoid thinking about your future? Are you purposefully not starting to work on the current task because you are no longer motivated by the work you do?

There are many things we can avoid.

You can even avoid thinking about avoiding things.

Once you crystallize what you are avoiding. You can then ask yourself why.

Why are you avoiding this? What’s the core reason?

The more you ask why, the more terrain from your puzzled unconsciousness you’ll uncover.

Probably you don’t want to bring a certain topic for discussion with your spouse because you’re afraid of her answer. Or, you avoid taking a leap to another career because you are afraid that you’ll suck.

Fortunately, the more you discover. The more you unclothe your inner thoughts. The better you’ll understand yourself and what you need to focus on next.


Life is basically a series of problems. The good news is, that we get to choose some of our problems.

I know, it sounds a bit absurd. But you’ll see why in a minute…

When you purchase a car, for example. While you surely solve most of your transportation-related issues – i.e., you won’t have to rely on public transportation. Another set of problems comes attached to the ownership of a car. In particular, you’ll now have to handle all the car-related problems – gas bills, changing tires, repairs, etc. And the magnitude of some of the issues will depend on the car you got. For instance, a heavy truck will require more gas and a lot more cash for maintenance than an ordinary sedan.

A similar way of thinking can be observed in every other area of life.

If you don’t want the frustrating experience of the daily commute. You can find a remote job or start your own online business . By doing so, however, your life doesn’t become issue-free. You’ll now have remote job problems – feeling isolated, lonely, etc. – or business problems – need to hire people, figure out how to grow your business, etc.

A subset of questions arises from the “What kind of problems do I want in my life?” Probably the most interesting one is the following: “What kind of problems am I willing to deal with?”

Owning a pet can be observed from the problem lens.

Surely having a dog is an extremely joyful experience. But it’s definitely not a walk in the park. You have to devote a substantial amount of time to care for the animal – feed him, take him out, etc. Yet, people get pets all the time because they are willing to deal with the challenges that come with the ownership of a pet.

What I want to say is that at times, the world might seem totally fucked . Like everyone is against us, and like someone ordered a horde of problems to come our way. This is not entirely true. We choose most of the issues that eventually occur. And we have the power to reduce the number of problems with critical thinking.


Negative feedback makes us uncomfortable. Something that turned out to be not so pleasant is purposefully avoided by the brain. But whether we like it or not. Feedback and trying, failing, and then improving are two of the best ways to grow, become an adaptive thinker , and hammer critical thinking barriers .

There is one extra option, though. A harm-free way to get better.

It’s: To safely observe life from the side bench and take notes while other people do stuff.

If a colleague is doing better than you in your day job. Calling him names won’t do you any good. A much better alternative will be to see what you can learn from this person.

The same concept applies even if someone is underperforming or simply acting like a jerk. There’s a lot of gold not only in “what to do”, but also in “what not to do”.

If you’re struggling to find people to mimic in your physical life. Simply read books written by smart folks.

Reading is probably the best way to expand your thinking skills and outsmart the competition.

My favorite ones in relation to thinking are:


Thinking only considering what’s already available is not original thinking. You’re simply browsing the catalog of what’s already been made.

The question “What could be?” encourages critical thinking. Furthermore, it ignites creativity and passing the ordinary.

With this question, you break apart from the everydayness and press break from the mundane. You create space to think and to dream.

“What could be” is a mindset.

Just because something is the way it is, doesn’t mean it has to be like this forever. Also, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.

So, when the time comes. When something requires a change. Or if you are thinking about solving a problem. Don’t only rely on what’s already been made by others. Ask “What could be?”


With a question. This question: “What do we want to want?” Is how the ground-breaking book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari ends. Arguably the most difficult critical question of all.

Because we copy what others want – called mimetic desire . We usually want things everyone around us is longing for. A big house. A stable job. A social media profile with a lot of followers. A wardrobe full of clothes you only wear once.

A dramatically better way to look at life – and essentially at what you want. Is not to preoccupy your mind with what others have and thus copy their desires. But to ask yourself: “What do I want to want?”

Then, further questioning your answer with: “Do I want this because it aligns with my personal values , or do I want it because others are craving it?”

Our goals and our habits are based on our wants.

To ensure that you’ll end up in a place you like – not just land in a random job you’ll regret, for example. The best way to approach your life is by first figuring out what you want.

By far, “what do I want to want?” is the best question I have found that can help you determine the proper direction of your life.

Some Closing Thoughts

There are numerous articles online that aim to improve the way we think. How to approach critical thinking and thinking in general.

I’ve personally covered a lot on the subject in the following entries:

And while there are many good articles and books on the topic. They give you a false sense of knowledge. As if the mere possession of a book or simply reading an article about critical thinking can improve your ability to reason.

Essentially, these are all words on a page – a printed page or a web page, it doesn’t matter.

Reading the words won’t make you superiorly smarter. Using the words will.

And the first step toward using the words we digest is asking yourself questions. Hard questions. Critical questions.

A unique feature of our brain is that if you feed it questions. It will do its best to answer them. Even if nothing initially comes to mind.

So, don’t just scroll through what I’ve labeled above as critical thinking questions. Go to a quiet place. Undust your old desk – the one you used to study when you were a student. Then, take some time to think about the questions above.

Are the answers start to make you feel uncomfortable?

Good. You’re in the right direction.

Do yourself a favor:

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critical thinking questions list

15 Awesome Critical Thinking Questions You Should Ask Students

Critical thinking can be difficult to teach, but it is a skill students must acquire.

15 Awesome Critical Thinking Questions You Should Ask Students

Without critical thinking , students will encounter difficulty as they advance through their academic careers and may fall behind their peers. In many school environments, there is a push toward using test performance as the main marker of achievement. While standardized testing is a part of a student’s academic experience, it is just one part.

Critical thinking helps students develop analytical skills that will be useful throughout their lives. Not only during their educational years. The key to developing this skill is the use of question prompts that help them to, in essence, think for themselves. Too many students fall into the trap of believing that answers are always right or wrong, without any room for nuance or a variety of correct viewpoints.

Education resources

critical thinking questions list

15 awesome critical thinking questions you should ask students

Incorporating critical thinking questions can help students think more analytically and prompt them to formulate their ideas. Great questions can be broken out into these different ways:

Take a look at these 15 awesome critical thinking questions that can help students think better:

You will notice that none of the questions could be answered with “yes” or “no”. They are all open-ended and meant to be probing and thought-provoking. Their most effective aspect is that they will force the student to think about their interpretation or reaction rather than giving a “right” answer.

Use these questions throughout your teaching to encourage your students to think for themselves and draw conclusions. When students are only taught to memorize answers and facts, their analytical skills may not develop sufficiently. And without critical thinking skills, it will be more difficult for them to grasp more abstract concepts as they progress through each educational level.

The short story is one of the most effective vehicles for critical thinking questioning. Have the class read the same story and then gather for discussion once everyone has finished reading. Use this time to ask these questions, but allow the students to conclude. If you feel that a student is off base in their assessment, use gentle guiding statements to help steer them in the right direction. Never tell them their wrong answer or discourage them from sharing their thoughts.

The strategy behind this teaching method is to get the students to think independently and in a more grey area than close-ended questions allow. Suppose a student has a contrarian viewpoint to expound upon their idea and further discuss what events in the story caused them to think this way. With patience and guidance, your students will soon grasp the concept of critical thinking and will grow more comfortable discussing their ideas. This can be a very exciting time as a teacher, as it shows how much students are individuals and need to have their thoughts and ideas.

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