We need to improve our record teaching students to think critically

After the, frankly planned, erosion of the liberal arts foundation at institutions of higher education, we seem to be facing a crisis of students graduating without critical thinking skills… Huh. I wonder what you could point to to illustrate this viscerally for the public… Will have to give that some thought. (You have to love how IHE tiptoes around the issue because the Russian eggbots and maga hats are out there, hovering, even in the education field.)

We have certainly made progress in critical-thinking education over the last five decades. Courses dedicated to the subject can be found in the catalogs of many colleges and universities, while the latest generation of K-12 academic standards emphasize not just content but also the skills necessary to think critically about content taught in English, math, science and social studies classes.

Despite this progress, 75 percent of employers claim the students they hire after 12, 16 or more years of formal education lack the ability to think critically and solve problems — despite the fact that nearly all educators claim to prioritize helping students develop those very skills. Those statistics were included in Academically Adrift, the 2011 book by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, which caused a stir when the authors asserted that students made little to no progress in critical-thinking ability during their college years.

With perils mounting, many of them attributable to too little critical thinking about the subjects that matter most, we clearly must do more to ensure today’s students become tomorrow’s skilled thinkers. Fortunately, we are in a position to do so without having to overturn the current higher education system or break the bank.

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