The current week’s reading made me think critically about critical thinking (Citation: anyone in the class who used this line in their blogs. I will find your blog and cite you). Well not that critically to be perfectly honest. I cannot hold a thought together for more than five minutes. But here are my two cents anyways.
Critical thinking is a pretty rare commodity nowadays. This is “disciplined” out of us early on in school. The majority of my school years were spent mugging up anything and everything that was placed in front of me. I blame the incentive structure. The only thing that mattered at the end of a school year was how much I had scored overall and where my ranking relative to others. I did what I had to do. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Fast forward to my college days where I spent countless hours (mostly the hours on deadline days), working on projects and assignments. Nobody told me the purpose of these. Although I must admit that I learned more through the projects, yet the primary purpose of it went largely unnoticed. I had assignments to submit and grades to get and people to compare myself to (To those who are completely bewildered: Final grades of a class are publicly available to all the students in India).
Fast forward a few more years and I end up taking classes at Virginia Tech. I learn the hard way that Problem Based Learning (PBL) doesn’t seem to always work (Also a shoutout to Alex: https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/alexpfp17/2017/09/11/dubious-on-digital-learners/). It couldn’t be my fault, could it? Had the blamer really become the blame-ee (I know! I know! it not a word. Cut me some slack)?
Hooks (2010, Chp 2) address various pre-requisites that are essential in order to encourage critical thinking. Firstly, students must learn how to enjoy thinking. A thing easier said than done thanks to the rigid schooling system and the incentive structures in place. Can we not destroy people’s critical thinking in school? That’d be great. Thanks ya’ll (Did you think I’ll stop blaming others? You were wrong). In colleges, there has to be a conscious effort on our (graduate students and faculties) part to focus more on the journey (how much students learn along the way) rather than the the solution (aka: Final project submission). This is somewhat similar to what Dr. Fowler’s recommendation of “Using PBL that encourages not just problem-solving, but problem-posing”.
The need of the day is for all of us to change. However the onus lies on us, the educators, to bring about changes in the current systems in order for students to change for the better.
Image links and citations (in the order they appear):
- Bell Hooks. (2010). Teaching critical thinking: Practical wisdom. Routledge.