The core question of all human society has emerged yet again as we start the 2021-2022 academic year: “Are we one or are we many?” How do we live and learn productively together during a pandemic?
Superheated confrontations, protests, and polarizing politics cannot resolve this conundrum. They generate heat, but not light. Educators know that critical thinking can illuminate issues and guide us to practical solutions.
The academy is the place where thoughtful reasoning can best be taught, measured, modeled, and prized.
Unrealistic ideological extremes are cognitive blackholes. If the interests of the one always out-weigh the interests of the many, our academic communities are but swirls of individuals, like Leibnizian monads, clustering and colliding in the dark, never connecting or cooperating. If the interests of each must always give way to the interests of the whole, our academic communities will be like the Borg in an episode of Star Trek – a monolithic, all-consuming, mind numbing collective. Both extremes are paths to the dark side.
Strong critical thinking cuts through ideology by demanding that we first get the practical problems right. The question is not “personal choice vs. the common good.” The question is how to exercise personal choice so that the good of each is achieved by bringing about the good of all. Evidence, sound reasoning, fair-minded consideration of options, and reflection are the tools strong critical thinkers bring to this challenge.
To learn more about the practical application of critical thinking, download and share “Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts.” To evaluate the critical thinking skillset and mindset of your students, contact us today about our educational assessments like the world renowned CCTST and CCTDI, and our tailored assessments for Business, Health Sciences, STEM, Law, Military Science as well as K-12 students.
Engage with students and colleagues about the question of personal choice and the common good in the context of the pandemic. And call us today about assessing critical thinking at the institutional and the classroom levels.
Best wishes for your every success in 2021-2022.
Peter Facione, PhD, is an internationally known expert on the training and assessment of critical thinking and high stakes decision making. Facione has worked with business leaders, military officers and NCOs, artists and musicians, college faculty and K-12 teachers, health care professionals, and C-suite executives to help them develop system-wide initiatives focused on critical thinking. Founder of Insight Assessment, he currently leads the instrument development team that creates and validates all assessment of reasoning skills and mindset attributes distributed by Insight Assessment. This includes the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) and the INSIGHT series of assessments. Read more.