Blog Post: The State of Critical Thinking in Human Societies Today

Linda Elder
Aug 24, 2023 • 330d ago
The State of Critical Thinking in Human Societies Today

{"ops":[{"insert":"Three disturbing, but hardly novel, facts still impede the advancement of ethical critical thinking across human cultures:\n\n• Most teachers and faculty at all levels lack a substantive concept of critical thinking.\n\n• Most teachers and faculty don’t realize that they lack a substantive concept of critical thinking, believe that they sufficiently understand it, and assume they are already teaching it to students.\n\n• Lecture, rote memorization, trivial exercises, and largely ineffective short-term study habits are still the norm in instruction today.\n\nThe struggle of critical thinking to find an independent home in academia has led to predictable consequences for human societies: the average person has little or no idea how to analyze reasoning, appropriately assess reasoning, or systematically improve reasoning. The average person has no idea of the importance of explicitly aspiring to intellectual virtues such as intellectual humility, intellectual empathy, and confidence in reason. Because most people lack the skills and dispositions of the fairminded critical person and don’t understand the underlying conceptual frameworks for these processes, they neither understand nor value reasoning, despite its dominant role in the quality of their lives. Accordingly, most businesses, as well as most government and military offices, lack a robust concept of critical thinking.\n\nIt is possible to address this problem if humans adopt the robust, practical, integrated, comprehensive conception of critical thinking – guided by natural languages – which largely developed in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and which critical thinking scholars have continued to develop and contextualize. Instead, the fledgling field of critical thinking studies has largely been buried under a mishmash and muddle of alternative approaches that are variously dated, partial, cryptic, or outright counterfeit. Most U.S. schools, colleges, and universities, as well as many K-12 schools, openly state or imply that they prioritize critical thinking, but there is little to no evidence to support this claim. In fact, there is considerable evidence to suggest its opposite, that teachers and faculty across the world are missing a key foundational ingredient for all education – the cultivation of intellectual skills and virtues which comes through the tools of criticality.\n\nFor business, government, and military leaders, a key question is: to what extent do they seek or desire fairminded critical thinking across their organizations, or, conversely, would they rather have a weak concept of critical thinking that merely advances their vested or selfish interests (while often undermining those same interests in ways they fail to detect)? There are now many pop-up consultants who claim expertise in critical thinking and can offer these organizations precisely what they want – pseudo critical thinking within a box, defined in narrow terms and only in the supposed interests of the organization, but without regard to how the organization behaves in terms of its ethical obligations.\n\nI hope you will join me for our upcoming webinar (Wed. August 30, 2023, 1 pm Eastern Time) as we discuss the state of critical thinking in education and society today, how it reached this point, and how we can begin progressing in a better direction. "},{"attributes":{"color":"blue","link":""},"insert":"Register for the webinar here"},{"insert":".\n"}]}

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Posted by: Abhishek kariwal

{"ops":[{"insert":"Hello Linda, I am Abhishek Kariwal, co-founder of based out of India. We are doing studies on developing critical thinking skills and behaviours among schools students. We have not yet reached anywhere.\n\nYour article largely says that people in academia lack the thorough understanding of critical thinking. You also said that it is possible to address this problem if we adopt robust, integrated, comprehensive conception of critical thinking guided by natural languages. This statement is big and I could not understand it thoroughly. I am mainly looking for a simple yet concrete ways to develop critical thinking, if at all it exists. Can you throw light on how a teacher intending to develop critical thinking would approach teaching a topic. Say topic of 'Heat'. \n"}]}