Critical Thinking Terms

Critical Thinking Terms-54
At a time when the humanities, in particular, are under attack, what better way to defend the humanities’ “useless knowledge” than by demonstrating that these are means to a larger end: critical thinking?However, one must acknowledge that these defenses reflect the capitulation of academics to utilitarian and pragmatic pressures.

Lacking a convincing argument for the knowledge that anthropologists or historians have to offer, they instead proclaim that history and anthropology will serve employers’ needs better than will other fields.

But if that’s the case, why does one really need to know anything about anthropology or This is not an abstract question.

Different criteria and tests used to determine whether or not critical thinking is taking place have been put forth by different educators.

Robert Ennis’s popular definition from 1989 also states that, “critical thinking is reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do,” adding an emphasis on the resulting action.

It’s a meaningless skill from the perspective of a guitar teacher.

The same is true about critical thinking in the arts and sciences.Everywhere we turn these days, we hear that colleges are not teaching “critical thinking.” Employers want critical thinkers, but they cannot find them.Entire books conclude that colleges have failed to increase students’ critical thinking.College professors, they proclaim, teach a bunch of stuff (facts, dates, formulae) that students don’t need and won’t use. It presumes that the material colleges teach—the arts and sciences—does not matter, when, in fact, this is the very reason colleges exist. Cognitive science demonstrates that if we want critical thinkers, we need to ensure that they have knowledge. Instead, critical thinking is learning to use our knowledge.Instead, students need to have intellectual and cognitive skills. The most effective critical thinkers, then, are those who learn history or physics. In many ways, the turn to skills is a defensive response.In other words, critical thinking is not a self-standing goal independent of the larger purpose of a college education; instead, it should be intimately connected to developing students’ intellectual virtues, habits, and knowledge. Often, advocates of critical thinking portray it as an independent set of cognitive skills that are easily transferable.They advocate critical thinkers because employers and political leaders want people who can solve complex problems, but they do not care much about what students think about. As one skeptic of “critical thinking” has written, “if we describe college courses mainly as delivery mechanisms for skills to please a future employer, if we imply that history, literature, and linguistics are more or less interchangeable ‘content’ that convey the same mental tools, we oversimplify the intellectual complexity that makes a university education worthwhile in the first place.”, or techniques (think of artisans) to analyze texts and problems.Since then, it has continued to import and borrow words and expressions from around the world, and the meanings have mutated.(Awesome and awful once meant nearly the same thing.) Some specimens in the English vocabulary have followed unusually circuitous routes to their place in the contemporary lexicon, and this series, Lexical Investigations, unpacks those words hiding in our midst.Nicholas Lemann, former dean of Columbia’s School of Journalism, urges colleges to foreground method, not content, in their general education programs.Many high-profile reformers agree that professors too often focus on “content” over “skills,” thus failing Advocates of critical thinking contrast thinking critically with learning knowledge.


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