Posts tagged ‘critical thinking’

August 25, 2012

The Roles and Values of Colleges and Universities

I love this letter: Charles Negy, Professor, Says Students Showed ‘Religious Arrogance And Bigotry’ In A Letter Later Posted On Reddit

The purpose of a university, and my course in particular, is to struggle intellectually with some of life’s most difficult topics that may not have one right answer, and try to come to some conclusion about what may be “the better answer” (It typically is not the case that all views are equally valid; some views are more defensible than others). Another purpose of a university, and my course in particular, is to engage in open discussion in order to critically examine beliefs, behaviors, and customs. Finally, another purpose of a university education is to help students who typically are not accustomed to thinking independently or applying a critical analysis to views or beliefs, to start learning how to do so. We are not in class to learn “facts” and simply regurgitate the facts in a mindless way to items on a test. Critical thinking is a skill that develops over time. Independent thinking does not occur overnight. Critical thinkers are open to having their cherished beliefs challenged, and must learn how to “defend” their views based on evidence or logic, rather than simply “pounding their chest” and merely proclaiming that their views are “valid.”

This is why, despite the derogatory monikers of ivory towers and liberal indoctrination mills, universities are vital to society and our nation. It’s not about indoctrination, it’s about exposing you to a wider world than you’ve ever experienced before.

Colleges and universities are needed to make our kids smarter about the world, period.

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