Nowadays the world demands us to be educated, flexible and open to the changes of life. The development of economy requires educated people who are competitive in their sphere of profession. Each day the new things are discovered, each aspect of life is changing very rapidly. It also touches upon the sphere of education. There are a lot of innovations in the sphere of education. To have the profound knowledge and the ability to use it in a proper way we have to correspond to the requirements of the society. Success in life is directly dependent on learning and critical thinking is essential to effective learning.
Unfortunately, nowadays the researches in the field of education show that knowledge and skills of our students do not meet society’s requirement. Higher education is failing to respond to the needs of students.
The researchers of the authorities on higher education show:
– National assessment in virtually every subject indicate that, although our students can perform basic skills pretty well, they are not doing well on thinking and reasoning.
– Textbooks typically pay scant attention to big ideas, offer no analysis, and pose no challenging questions. Instead, they provide a tremendous array of information and ask questions requiring only that students be able to recite back the same empty list.
– Teachers teach most content only for exposure, not for understanding.
– Teachers tend to avoid thought-provoking work and activities and stick to predictable routines.
– Teachers are highly likely to teach in the way they themselves were taught.
– Teachers tend to aim at facts and concepts in the disciplines, at the lowest cognitive levels, rather than development of intellect or values.
– Rather than actively involving students in learning, teachers lecture, even though lectures are not nearly as effective as other means for developing cognitive skills.
– Students may be attending to lectures only about one-half of their time in class, and retention from lectures is low.
– Classroom tests often set the standard for students’ learning. As with instruction, however, teachers tend to emphasize recall of memorized factual information rather than intellectual challenge.
– «Taken together with preference for lecturing, tests may be reinforcing students’ commonly fact-oriented memory learning, of limited value to either them or society» .
Accordingly as Paul says there two kinds of students in our classroom. The first are «the intellectually disabled students». These are students who don’t know how to beat the system. «They don’t know how to identify the points to memorize. They don’t know how to manipulate faculty through flattery. And so they don’t succeed. They fail. They are frustrated. They despise it». The second are «elite disabled». These are the students who «thrive on memorizing the bits and pieces that satisfy professors. The elite disabled have some intellectual ability but use it mainly to do the required minimum in order to get a diploma, to get a job and move on» . The most important goal of undergraduate education is to foster students’ ability to think critically. Critical thinking plays a crucial role in overcoming all these problems. Critical thinking — the capacity to evaluate skillfully and fairly the quality of evidence and detect error, hypocrisy, manipulation, dissembling, and bias — is central to both personal success and national needs .
In order to master a range of intellectual skills and abilities in, i.e. to think critically, students are to be taught to:
– state and explain goals and purposes
– raise vital questions and problems within it, formulating them clearly and precisely
– gather and assess information, using ideas to interpret that information insightfully
– come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them relevant criteria standards
– adopt the point of view of the discipline, recognizing and assessing, as needs be, its assumptions, implications and practical consequences
– identify assumptions
– communicate effectively with others using language of the discipline and that of educated public discourse
– relate what one is learning in the subject to other subjects and to what is significant in human life.
– discuss reasonable the merits of different versions of a problem or question
– decide the most reasonable statement of an author’s point of view
– recognize bias, narrowness, and contradictions in the point of view of an expert
– distinguish evidence from conclusions based on that evidence; give evidence to back up their positions in an essay
– recognize conclusions that go beyond the evidence
– distinguish central from peripheral concepts
– identify crucial implications of a passage
– evaluate an author’s inferences
– draw reasonable inferences from positions stated
– express the ideas precisely
– clarify the questions they need to answer and the problems they need to solve
– demonstrate that they understand concepts
– consider implications and consequences
– examine things from more than one point of view
– state what they say clearly
– test and check for accuracy
– stick to questions, issues, or problems; and not wander in their thinking
– deal with complexities in problems and issues
– consider the point of view of others
– express their thinking logically
– distinguish significant matters from insignificant ones
In any case, if we want our students to become good reasoners, we must become concerned to help them begin to notice the inferences they are making, the assumptions they are basing those inferences on, and the point of view about the world they are taking — hence the systems in which they are thinking. To help our students do this, we need to give them clear examples of simple cases, and lots and lots of practice analyzing and reconstructing them.
And as a result of such instruction, the students (in general):
- learn content at a deeper and more permanent level
- are better able to explain and apply what they learn
- are better able to connect what they are learning in one class with what they are learning in other classes
- ask more and better questions in class
- understand the textbook better
- follow directions better
- understand more of what you present in class
- write better
- apply more of what they are learning to their everyday life
- become more motivated learners in general
- become progressively easier to teach
In the beginning of 20th century in his study of foundations of sociology and anthropology William Graham Sumner recognized the deep need for critical thinking in education and in life general : «Criticism is the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not. The critical faculty is a product of education and training. It is a mental habit and power. It is a prime condition of human welfare…. Education is good just so far as it produces well-developed critical faculty. A teacher of any subject who insists on accuracy and a rational control of all processes and methods, and who holds everything open to unlimited verification and revision, is cultivating that method as a habit in the pupils. Men educated in it cannot be stampeded. They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens».
- Meyers C. Teaching Students to Think Critically: A Guide for Faculty in All Disciplines/ C.Meyers. — JosseyBass. — San Francisco. — 1986.
- Paul, Richard W. Critical Thinking: Fundamental to education for a free society. — Educational Leadership, 1984, September, 4–14.
- Arendt H. Thinking New York: Hal-court Brace Jovanovich/ H.Arendt. — New York, 1977.
- Ennis R. Critical Thinking and the Curriculum. — National Forum, 1985.