Alt Left: The Main Reason to Go to College: To Learn Critical Thinking Skills

They’re supposed to get critical thinking skills if they graduated. If they couldn’t get them, they’re likely to drop out before they graduate. I went to university and I saw all sorts of folks dropping out of college at all stages of the game, with many more dropping out at the four year level.

A university education is supposed to teach you critical thinking skills. That’s part of the whole idea of it. I guess you could graduate without learning those skills, but you either got lucky, or the university was not doing its job.

Is It Time for an Experiment?

I would wager that if you took groups of 1,000 university grads and 1,000 non university grads and compared them, the uni grads would have much higher critical thinking skills. Of course IQ could mask that.

Even better match the uni grads and non-uni grads on IQ or factor out IQ, and then test to see if there was an effect for a university education alone or if the higher critical thinking skills rate was just an artifact of a higher IQ in the first place.

Or take two groups at age 18, test for critical thinking skills, then test the same two groups ten years later after uni graduation for one part of the group and then compare for critical thinking skills again. Once again factor out IQ. This would tell us if the college grads already had critical thinking skills before university and uni had no effect on those skills or if their skills improved with uni education.

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5 thoughts on “Alt Left: The Main Reason to Go to College: To Learn Critical Thinking Skills”

  1. Critical thinking cannot be taught, just as it is impossible to teach people simply to speak. To learn to speak always means to speak a particular language, and learning a language is useless when it comes to speaking another unrelated language. Similarly, people who study, say, economics can learn to ask the right critical questions in economic matters, but they will not be any further ahead in an unrelated field, such as climatology or military strategy.

    What is called critical thinking is more often than not an attitude rather than a skill. The “critical thinker” doesn’t just accept things on somebody’s say-so, he takes a skeptical attitude and asks himself: Is this really true? If college education encourages people to be skeptical in general, then it may lead to more critical thinking, not by teaching a skill, but by fostering an attitude.

    Regards. James

  2. Well, honestly, there was only one “argument class” in college. That’s where students are taught stuff like “ad hominem” etc.. – how to make an acceptable argument.

  3. What’s the purpose of a college education? You’ll get a variety of answers.

    It depends on which social class you belong to. A working class or poor person’s reasons will be different from an upper-middle-class person’s reasons. Some people go for the connections they can make in college. Women have gone to get their “MRS. degree.”

    People go for the expected reason: to increase their earning potential, by getting a profession or studying business. No one advising me ever told me that I should go to college to learn how to think critically.

    But I do remember those UNCF commercials from my childhood that were aimed at Black Americans and our allies: A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

    1. That’s the main reason why a university education is good for the person who got it and good for society. The ability to think critically is a value whether that person realizes it or not. And the ability of its citizens to think critically is very important if you want to have a working society. I’m quite sure that few people go to college to learn how to think critically, but that is one of the main benefits that they and society will get out it.

      I guess I am thinking more in terms of society than the individual. The university degree is important to society because it’s very important to society to have citizens who are well educated and can think critically. It’s also going to benefit the person a lot on the job and it should increase his earnings. That’s why they used to ask for a “Bachelors Degree in anything” and train.

      1. High school should just be extended and made available to everyone. I would say high school should be extended 2 years and after that, college reserved for those not going into blue-collar work.

        That would make critical thinking stuff available to everyone – not just an elite.

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