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Critical Thinking…

Diving into the deep end today – way over my head!  Commenting (critically) about Professors from my college.  What do I know?  Growing up, my parents taught me to always respect my teachers.  It’s good to venture out from our parents’ basements occasionally, true?

Last fall, I attended a panel interview at my Alma Mater titled, “The Value of a Liberal Arts Education in Today’s Global Market Place”.  I was looking forward to the debate – especially one posed by an Interviewer interviewing Educators about today’s “real world”.  Turns out the Interviewer was one of them.  Not much of a debate.

College Professors are stellar at persuasive presentations when they’re on campus, aren’t they?  There we were; on campus; Professors gathered conducting a debate-less, debate with fellow Professors about the “value” of a Liberal Arts degree; in a room full of alumni, all of whom having earned Liberal Arts degrees.  Not exactly the real world setting for critical thinking on the “value in the global market place” I was expecting.

Question:  Can critical thinking thrive in absence of diversity, disagreement, and dissent (aka a debate)?  Well, what do I know?  (Ut Oh – I think I hear my Mom, “Gary, listen to your teachers now.”)  Let’s refer to today’s storage locker of critical thinking, aka Wikipedia:

The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

Now we’re getting somewhere – especially the last two words, “… and action.”  Count me in on the “and action part.

Our panel of Professors placed particular prominence on learning how to think critically.  OK – we can all agree that thinking in the business world is… well… critical.  However, I’m thinking that many companies place more value on the results of the thinking (aka the action part) when competing in today’s global market place.

I wonder whether things get over-thought on college campuses today.  I confuse easily about undergrads and their exotic, double-majors.    When faced with assigned tasks in today’s global economy, will they take action?  Or, think about taking action – critically, of course?  Did their parents prepare them for today’s boss that says, “You or your successor will get this job done!”?

The Professors’ positioned economic value in the context only academia seems comfortable with – that piece of global economy fiction known as “the long run”.  “In the long run” they stated, a person with a Liberal Arts degree out-earns their peer group.   What about today’s over-emphasis on quarterly-results and the “What have you done for me lately” mentality?

I wonder if many of our Liberal Arts students “qualify” for tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars of student loan debt to pursue a path of critical thinking to set themselves up for the long run.  But will they qualify for a car loan upon graduation in today’s “real world”?  Not to mention paying rent – which, of course may be why so many of our adult children are living at home with their parents?

“Critical Thinking” or “And Action”; “Results Today” or “In The Long Run”; what carries more value in today’s global market place?  What do I know?

And if you find adult children living in your basement, not thinking critically about paying back their huge student loan debt, are they’re simply waiting for the “long run” to come along?

GAP

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4 Comments


  1. Richard Kirby
    Feb 25, 2015

    Interesting article – did you ask any of your questions to the college professors? Were you even given a chance…?


    • Gary
      Feb 26, 2015

      Thanks Richard! Interestingly, there were just a few minutes of discussion following the Professors’ prepared remarks. But the audience decided they wanted to “discuss” the value of a Liberal Arts degree from a small school vs. a BA from a large university. Yes, alumni conducting a debate-less debate with alumni, all of whom graduated with a BA from a small school 🙂 I did have the opportunity to have a nice chat with one of the four Professors afterwards. I guess the other three will just have to read about it online 🙂 Thx, GAP


  2. Brian Hassett
    Feb 28, 2015

    Excellent Gary, you got right to the point with this line.

    “Did their parents or Professors prepare them for today’s boss that says, “You or your successor will get this job done!”?

    Sorry I took a liberty in adding Professors.

    Brian


    • Gary
      Mar 04, 2015

      Thanks Brian! I’m not sure about their parents; but I suspect college Professors are unfamiliar with today’s boss 🙂 Thx, GAP

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