Simply put, “critical thinking” means pushing your own thoughts beyond the conventional wisdom, being brave enough to challenge your own rigidly held assumptions as well as those of others. Pushed hard enough, some assumptions may gain clarity and ring with even more truth; others may fall by the wayside because they turned out to be little more that a collection of half –truths and even untruths.
For example, it is widely held that undocumented immigrants take away jobs from “red blooded Americans.” Beyond the fact there is no statistical evidence for this, just look around you. Are you and your friends standing in line waiting for jobs cleaning the restrooms at Wal-Mart, plucking feathers from chickens and cleaning out their slop, making the beds and cleaning the toilets at the nearest Red Roof Inn? Hardly. And for those who say round then all up and send them home, just exactly what would that cost? Surely, if one thinks about it, there has to be a better way to handle whatever problems there are with the immigration system as it now stands than building more jails. I’m just saying. (If you need more evidence on this matter, I recommend http://www.immigrationforum.org/research/economy and http://www.immigrationforum.org/research/economy.)
A more precise definition, offered by the Foundation for Critical Thinking, lists ten keywords that when taken together serve as a “guide to belief and action. These descriptive words are, “clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.” Think abut those words – they are very specific and freighted with meaning.
Why, then, you may ask, does IPFW place such a premium on critical thinking? Two reasons:
- Only by thinking for yourself, by not letting others tell you what to think, can you become a fully actualized citizen, friend, spouse, parent, free and happy human being.
- Critical thinking, much like exercise limbers up your limbs and improves your endurance, improves your thought processes and helps make you a life long learner – these are skills that employers in today’s information age are looking for: if you want to rise above the ranks, be a manager, platoon leader, company commander, police chief, marketing executive, you name it, you will need these skills, trust me.