Critical Thinking Is More Than Common Sense

1291 words - 5 pages

If one were to ask a group of high school seniors questions like, “Who was the first U.S. president?” or, “What equation is associated with the Pythagorean Theorem?” they would likely discover that the majority of the students would answer correctly. However, if one were to pose the questions, “Why did the Civil War occur?” or, “Why are international trade relations between other countries important to the U.S.?” they would receive fragmented responses at best; few students would be able to provide clear and concise answers. This simulated example clearly underscores some of the current flaws in the education system across the nation. Instructors teach students, and expect them to learn; they do not teach them how to learn. Many educators have taught students well how to compile trivia and miscellaneous facts, but few have truly embraced the method of critical thought in the classroom. Kansans praise the system for the improving test scores, yet they fail to see through the blanket of such pseudo-success, and they do not realize the true mediocrity of the Kansas educational curriculum. Secondary schools in Kansas should place a greater emphasis on critical thinking in the classroom.

As indicated by studies from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, students fall short when it comes to critical thought and reasoning (Jasparro, 86). Because of the current classroom practices of rote memorization, “students are generally deeply habituated to passivity and low-level performance,” reports Linda Elder, executive director for the Center for Critical Thinking, who promotes the integration of critical thought into current curriculum. “Most [students] have no conception of what discursive reasoning is. Most have spent years merely exercising their rote memories, struggling to store up, at least temporarily, undigested bits and pieces of information for the test on Monday. By Wednesday or Thursday, little will remain.” Elder claims the result of learning rituals such as rote memorization simply produces alienated, bored and often poorly motivated students, saying, “What they have learned best are the arts of passive resistance and an extreme aversion to anything academic or scholastic.” Simply revising teaching methods and curriculum to incorporate a greater application of critical thinking could reverse this trend, improving the quality of education, giving students important life skills and increasing academic achievement.

Critical thought in the classroom has a unique opportunity to improve the quality of education in areas where other teaching and learning methods cannot. Because of its approach toward the actual content itself, thinking and application of the material take priority over the simple memorization of facts. As the Center for Critical Thinking’s Director of Research Richard Paul puts it, “It is thinking about thinking while thinking in order to make thinking better: more clear, more accurate, more relevant, more...

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