Critical thinking skills are not just skills that are good to have. They are essential skills for the times we live in, for the work we do, and for our personal needs.
Critical thinking skills will help us maintain our freedoms when these freedoms are manipulated by questionable information. But it will do more. It will help us to deal with information and knowledge more effectively and to innovate and create new ideas from the knowledge. Critical thinking will help us become more effective learners using the large amount of information that is being unleashed through modern technology. Critical thinking skills will also help us improve our work by developing better plans, making better decisions, and creating fresh solutions.
A general acceptance of all information and knowledge in the form of laws and policies without critically examining them is a sure way to lose our freedom.
Critical thinking is also a living skill that will help us form better relationships and develop a meaningful attitude to life.
We are all critical thinkers when we think about how we think. We make decisions, plan our actions, and build on our imagination using our critical skills. This course identifies our critical thinking processes and introduces tools to enhance those skills. It also deals with processes and influences that impede critical thinking. Upon completion of the course, learners will be able to discern information more effectively, plan their actions with greater confidence and be more creative in what they do.
Critical thinking is important not only in educational or professional contexts but as a living skill. It is an indispensable skill to understand and understand and analyse information and make important decisions in our lives. Never in our history have we encountered information as today. Much of that information is not abstract or detached from our daily lives but influences our decisions and choices.
The course takes note of cultural traditions that tend not to support critical thinking and regard a critical approach as being rude or disobedient. Our education system has contributed to this by insisting on rote learning and rewarding the regurgitation of information without critical analysis. Unfortunately, even in higher education, there is little encouragement to critically analyse what is being learned. Critical thinking is neither taught as an independent subject nor as part of the syllabus of any subject.
School teachers we have spoken to tend to think that critical thinking is a difficult skill to teach. Many of them believe that school students are not ready for such an exercise and must be content with accepting knowledge as is found in the textbooks and formalised through official syllabuses. Many also argue critical thinking can only be taught after the learner has had a sufficient command of the knowledge in a particular subject, and that it is the teacher's role only to equip students with that knowledge.
The same attitudes prevail in our higher education institutions. Cramming students with knowledge appears to be the main preoccupation of these institutions. Even the accreditation of higher education programmes is built on a stipulated number of subjects taught over the period a programme is conducted. As in primary and secondary education, tertiary teachers also believe that students are not ready to engage in any critical examination until they are sufficiently apprised of the knowledge that is imparted at the various levels of higher education.
A highly regulated higher education system adds to the pedagogical limitations of higher education institutions. Regulations take the form of prescribed syllabuses that are rooted in the education of the last century. Dissemination of knowledge is the main objective of higher education. The containment of education in the classrooms is reinforced by laws that not only discourage critical examination but prohibit it with punitive laws. We cite only one set of such laws – the disciplinary rules imposed on academics in public universities which prohibit them from criticising the government or its policies or the university they work in.
This course is driven by the belief that a disposition to critical thinking will benefit both the individual who is so disposed and the nation. A disposition to examine everything critically will increase creativity and productivity, whether individually, in groups or in the workplace. Critical thinking will also improve the quality of government policies and laws.
For more information on the course, please call 03 7865 5062 during office hours or email firstname.lastname@example.org.