What Happened to Critical Thinking?
Lately, it seems that everywhere you turn, you get conflicting information and discerning the truth from that information takes critical thinking, but everyone seems to have forgotten to use that tool when looking at all the information available. What happened?
To start with, what exactly is critical thinking? It’s something we hear a lot about these days, but what exactly is it? I talk a lot about critical thinking in this article, but since I know you probably won't go back to read it, let's look at the technical definition again.
According to The Foundation for Critical Thinking it “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. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.” (WOW! That's a mouthful.) More simply put, it is “The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment” (thank you Lexico.com). It's also known as logic and reasoning in our household, or "The Smell Test."
So, what’s the big deal? Well, from my vantage point of about 56 years of age, once upon a time, it was woven into the lessons we learned in school. As we learned our ABCs, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, it was woven into the process. We learned to use critical thinking as an inherent part of our education. We learned how to think and how to figure things out, not what to think. In other words, we developed our Bull Shit meter as we went along learning everything else.
Apparently, the current education system hasn’t done it that way in a long time. When I went back to school to finish my degree in the early 2000s, the first class I had to take was, in part, a course on critical thinking. (That's where that other article originated.) Really? All I could think was how stupid that it had to be taught – everyone should know how to look at a boatload of information, do a bunch of research and use reasoning to weed through the BS to get to what is real or true. Today, students literally have an entire separate class on the subject – usually in later grades, like college or sometimes, high school. Much depends on where you attend school.
Unfortunately, this does our youth absolutely no good. This should be a part of their education from the beginning. Critical thinking is probably how Pythagoras determined that the world is round, not flat. How did we get to where we are today? What do you think?
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