This approach again goes back to the early Greek philosophers, but increasingly relates to the higher order skills needed for success in careers and as citizens. Essentially, Liberal Education teaches students to think well, and to learn how to learn. These are the skills students learn in university: the ability to dig deep into a complex problem; to focus on hard ideas and make something of them; the ability to read tons of complex stuff and analyze it and synthesize it; the time management skills; the self-discipline, the determination, and the independence to work without constant supervision; the ability to unpack assumptions and carefully question accepted knowledge; the openness to new ideas, new ways of looking at things and new ways of solving old problems. These skills are what employers want, and what our society needs in its leaders.
Critical Thinking: the process of identifying an argument, evaluating evidence and reasoning, producing informed decisions, and communicating and defending those decisions.
"Reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do"
- Susan, M. Brookhart, How to Assess High-Order Thinking Skills in your Classroom
Critical thinking furthermore means to be able to look at issues or potential connections with an open mind and minimal bias. It is to look at both sides of the argument and form an educated opinion. It also includes wrestling with thoughts and new information being learned to best be able to apply this knowledge in situations that arise outside the classroom and in everyday decision making. It is a two-part process; it is an internal process where on our own and with sources we critically think about the topic at hand, but it is also to act externally on the internal decision that was made. A liberal education provides the time and space to practice and apply criticial thinking, resulting in its place as the third liberal education pillar.
Critical Thinking Articles
Below are articles that specifically tie into the critical thinking pillar. There is a variety of content, opinions, and positions throughout these articles. This is a good place to start looking through resources for the essay that needs to be written as well as a place for the curious eye to wander and catch an interesting article to read.
Critical Thinking Skills and Competencies
- Problem solving
- Synthesis and integration of knowledge
- Analytical reasoning
- Logical reasoning
- Evidence-based reasoning
- Preparing and defending arguments
- Formulating good questions
- Writing and communication skills
- Learning to learn
- Learning agility