Comments about ‘Readers' forum: Critical thinking skills’

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Published: Thursday, Oct. 27 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

For a grueling workout of your critical thinking skills, nothing beats a few university courses in philosophy.

Sandy, UT

I don't buy into the idea that education's sole purpose is to provide "marketable skills," and that if it doesn't it is a "waste." In my view the purpose of education is to improve the quality of ones life, not just the quantity. People can make a contribution to society in ways other than monetarily. Don't we still need authors, musicians, actors, painters, philosophers, etc., even when these professions may not be lucrative? Hooray for liberal education and those who specialize in it.

Huntsville, UT

Harry, its the individual's time to waste, is it not? If they want to waste it learning new things who are we to naysay them their wasted time? And I'd hardly say that a broad education is a waste of time. It also depends on how one defines "marketable skills".

Springville, UT

I completely disagree with this letter. Critical thinking skills are in short supply, and such skill can and should be taught beyond mathematics.

Baron Scarpia
Logan, UT

I'll have to take issue that "math" fosters critical thinking. Indeed, much of today's economic woes come from Wall Street applying supposedly sophisticated economic mathematical models, invented by "ivory tower" economists and finance professors. They believed they could model risk into those fancy mathematical models, and Wall Street used that "math" to gamble our investments away and then take a bailout from the federal government... not much critical thinking there!

silas brill
Heber, UT

Career is not the only reason we pursue an education, though creative people can make a career out of anything they love. The letter writer wants us to become a world of drones.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Math is a great skill to aid critical thinking and in the understanding of many subjects.

But it is definitely not the same as critical thinking.

Critical thinking is exploratory thinking. Testing both prior assumptions and new theories. It helps us check for vulnerabilities.

Tooele, UT

Re: "For a grueling workout of your critical thinking skills, nothing beats a few university courses in philosophy."

Hmmmm. I took a few university courses in philosophy. For the easy humanities credit. I came closest to studying critical thinking in science, math and engineering. But, my real critical-thinking education came in the workplace, both during and after [my wife and I worked my way through] college, learning to compete in a real-life job market.

Sorry, but no ivory-tower college class focuses the mind as acutely on critical thinking tasks as does figuring out where your next meal will come from.

"Educators" quite often miss this point.

Deep Space 9, Ut

According to the "Critical Thinking Community", the definition of Critical Thinking is:

"Critical thinking is 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. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness."

Judging by that definition, the best way to teach critical thinking, without getting the bias of the instructor, would be through math and science. The humanities is a bad place to teach critical thinking because the "correct" answer is determined by the instructor.

Basically, teaching critical thinking in the humanities has become indoctrination to the instructor's point of view.

one old man
Ogden, UT

Maybe we need to require a degree in "Critical Thinking" before anyone can be elected to public office.

Sandy, UT

@ procuradorfiscal

I think you're confusing critical thinking with practical problem solving. We need both, but they're not the same thing.

Bountiful, UT


Science is not a safe harbor from opinionated instruction, as the climate change debate demonstrates. In Kansas I understand they teach the earth is 6000 years old and evolution doesn't exist.

You may be able to avoid human opinion in arithmetic and geometry, but the theoretical debates in higher math get heated, as well.

Maybe the best thing to do is to teach children (and adults) that they should think for themselves and question what they hear, in politics, religion, education, math and other areas.

Some people call that critical thinking.

Brother Chuck Schroeder
A Tropical Paradise USA, FL

Here's my outsider truthful philosophy, and, I said I'll tell ya'll the truth, I didn't say you'll like it. In Utah it's "NEVER" a surprise to see a RINO/Liberal professor from Utah State University, jump to the defense of the status quo, regarding a liberal arts education, if their courses teach the art of "critical thinking," should there be a Major then of "critical common sense"?. Opps, there's something I forgot, the profession of journalism, has no common sense, it it bleeds, it leads, they are tought. And yet, it's a terrible waste of time and resources, both private and public tax dollars. "MORE" Scandals in the Classroom ?. They could be a Teacher?. BUT Elementary school curriculum isn't just about the three R's any more. Reading, Riting and Rithmetic, now have to make time for lessons in gender diversity and for nosy questionnaires that lead kids into teen sex and illegal drug usage. They get their "sheep skin", get out in the real world, can't find a job, while graduating without any marketable skills, live home with mommie, owe studient loans, live off the American tax payers, and give those low paying jobs to the illegals.

My views.

Tooele, UT

Re: "I think you're confusing critical thinking with practical problem solving. We need both, but they're not the same thing."

Oh, I'm pretty sure I know "purposeful, analytical, reflective judgment concerning what to believe or what to do; logical thinking that draws conclusions from facts and evidence" when I see it.

Tertiary-level "educators," on the other hand -- well, that's another story.

Deep Space 9, Ut

To "10CC | 9:17 a.m." yes, at the higher theoretical levels there are still debates. However, at the level that most students will see when getting a bachelors degree, the theoretical levels of math and physics do not enter into the discussion.

You can have students look at data for many well known reproducable scientific principals that can get students to think and reason. You don't have those types of exercises in sociology, english, history, or other fields that are more dependant on opinion of the instructors than on simple mathematical equations.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

"The fact of the matter is that many of those who attend college wind up with a broad education, while at the same time, graduating without any marketable skills. This is a terrible waste of time and resources, both private and public." ~ Harry Haycock


College is not about gaining a "marketable skills".

That would be called a "Trade School".

Critical thinking:
is learning how to think outside of the box,
using completely unorthodox views or practices,
opening your mind to new, and better ways of doing things.
Making Paradigm shifts on everything on every level.

It's called INNOVATION.
Research and Development is doing something not in existance.
So, how can you "market" something that doesn't even exist?

The World's greatest Critical Thinkers and innovators dropped out of College due to their emphasis on "marketable skills".

Thomas Edison,
Albert Einstein,
Steve Jobs,
Bill Gates....

They never learned "marketable skills" - but because of that, they created completely new markets.

You won't learn that kind of Critical thinking at "Glenn Beck University", or any other Capitalist based schools who focus on making the most gain $$$.

That's why Universities and Professors are so "Liberal".
Everything Capitalist Conservatives dispise with a passion.

the greater outdoors, UT

Twin Lights states, "Critical thinking is exploratory thinking. Testing both prior assumptions and new theories. It helps us check for vulnerabilities."

I couldn't agree more. So why is it that Liberals don't do any of this? There is nothing exploratory in their thinking. They don't test prior assumptions or even look at new theories. Their ultimate vulnerability is that they cling to the old, failed policies of the past.

Why Libs don't learn from their mistakes is beyond me but their are the gold standard for insanity --- doing the same failed thing over and over expecting a different outcome.

And yet we are told by the so-called, self-proclaimed, deep critical thinkers that their way is the only way and we are foolish if we don't listen to them and let them run our lives.

Thanks but no thanks. Maybe when an original idea comes out of the Left that hasn't been tried or failed before I'll take notice.

Until then, I'll continue to stick with true principles of freedom, liberty and allowing all mankind to succeed or fail using their own skills and abilities.

Sandy, UT

Isn't the real purpose of a university is to teach one how to learn. Top companies hire and advance people because they have a degree, not what is on the degree. I'll also surmise that by the time I am done commenting it will change again. @Charles from somewhere outside, you shouldn't have missed the day they talked about history. How's that for critical thinking?

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

@Charles | 10:07 a.m. Oct. 27, 2011
The Greater Outdoors, UT


I see another "A+" student from Glenn Beck University's Revisionist School of History.
I'm sorry -- but that is so wrong, that it appears you've completely come around again on yourself and you've got it so twisted and backwards.

Those principles you cherish now were brought to you by the "Critical Thinkers" of the late 18th century.

Those authors of Liberty [noted, the root word "Libre" also used to denote a Liberal], with their crazy new idea of Democarcy and forming a Representaive form of Government ALL originated from the "Looney-Left" and even they themselves refered to it as the "Great Experiment".

These were not the Kingsmen and "Tories" of America who wanted to "Conserve" the status quo, the British monarcy -- who made up the political right. That would be Benedit Arnold, who was a conservative Tory.

So much for Critical Thinking!

Deep Space 9, Ut

To "LDS Liberal | 11:46 a.m." I hate to be the one to break it to you, but Glenn Beck University is not a real school. It is the name of his outlet for documentaries. What you call revisionist history only seems revisionist because of the revisions that the liberals made to history over the past 100 years.

You should also note that it was early 1900's when liberal went from the meaning that you give to the modern liberal definition of eliminating freedom via government regulation.

Today, the Kingsmen and Tories are the liberals, wanting to revisit the failed institutions of Socialism and Communism. It is the Conservatives that are going against the staus quo and wanting to cut regulations and help people to be responsible for themselves rather than being dependant on the government.

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