Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sign of the Times?

by Jerome

Following the trend of news stories announcing philosophy majors disappearing or whole departments closing down, the headline on the Huffington Post this morning says that "Many College Students Failing to Learn Critical Thinking Skills." Yet the article blames students' social habits and lower expectations on the part of educators, making no mention of the absence of logic or critical thinking courses (considered an essential pre-requisite to eduction by medieval thinkers).

Is the problem the fault of individuals or institutions? Or is part of a larger problem, like the commodification of education, or a necessary side effect of the shift of our epistemic medium from a written culture to one that is visual and transitory?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

This should only be alarming to those engaged in institutional education that believe they are doing their part to create an educated populace to harness the reigns of democracy.

This should be seen as a success by an educational system designed to produce mindless drone workers for the gears of a capitalist society.

The less critical students are, the more accepting they will be of the mind-numbing existence that awaits them in the American workforce.

Already arriving with fractured attention spans and compromised listening skills due to the ubiquitous nature of electronic, social engagement, students revolt against tasks that require them to not only read, but...gasp... analyze a text.

Of course, professors and teachers are caught in the middle of institutionally set curricula and student evaluations. If you push the students to learn you lose your job. Water down the assignments to placate your students and contribute to the "sheeping" of society.

The middle ground, of course, is where almost all intellectual elite claim to exist. Professors are increasingly becoming practical radicals...or, increasingly an extension of a broken institution.

Students that drop out of school for the right reasons (not just to sit home and play video games or get high) have already sharpened their critical faculties.


Hanno said...

Since the initial suggestion is exactly what I take my project to be, I would find it alarming... but I do not. I find it surprising that 55% show significant gains in critical thinking, reading and writing in one year. That is a huge success. Why is this case so negatively?

Many times the others dont want to learn. Its not high school. We cant make em study and work. We can only fail them if they perform poorly.