Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?



  • So I was having a conversation the other day about college, and how it is either good or bad. I was of the stance that college is a massive waste of resources for the bulk of students. They were of the stance that college is critical for people everywhere and that it teaches critical thinking.

    I tried to steer the conversation that critical thinking can be taught through proper internships (not slave labor), while learning current methods and processes.

    They quickly dropped the conversation and went onto have other conversations with other people regarding other topics.

    So my question which I wanted to ask the person I was having this conversation with was, why do they feel that college is the only way to teach critical thinking? Critical thinking is a result and process of responsibility.

    What do you guys think?



  • Which my thought process is, being someone who's gone to college, and realized it was a total waste of time, money and my brain was I'd be far better off having a real internship or job with responsibility.

    As a young man, I had my own car, my own place, my own life. Maybe it's weird, but critical thinking for me was "how will I pay rent, buy food, and pay for college, car, insurance etc"

    And every time I came to the conclusion if I didn't have to spend $1000 cash annually on books I'd be better off. Not to mention the debt only a few years later.



  • Personally - college is to late to start teaching critical thinking.



  • @Dashrender while I agree, this was the stance of the person I was having this conversation with. Which I thought as well, but how else would you teach critical thinking?

    Paging @scottalanmiller and @Dominica, you have kids are you teaching your children critical thinking and responsibilities?


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    @dustinb3403 said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    They were of the stance that college is critical for people everywhere and that it teaches critical thinking.

    That's actually a key complaint about it. It generally discourages, or outright obliterates critical thinking. The entire concept of college is focused around simply doing what society says to do without, you know, critically thinking about it. Like just going to college itself, if people did critical thinking about whether or not it made sense for them to go, almost none would go.

    That college teaches kids to just accept what they are told and reinforces that they are to be mindless slaves of society norms is the antithesis of the idea that it teaches critical thinking.

    You can tell the people who live by the indoctrination, it never even occurs to them that by not questioning it, they've avoided any critical thinking!


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    @dustinb3403 said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    So my question which I wanted to ask the person I was having this conversation with was, why do they feel that college is the only way to teach critical thinking?

    Because it sounds good and they don't think critically about it. The marketing for college is that it teaches critical thinking because it's easy to say, hard to prove and people want a simple answer - basically by saying the words, they don't have to do it.


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    @dustinb3403 said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    What do you guys think?

    That college "teaches" already tells me you are talking to someone who was failing to teach themselves. That's a starting point. When I went to college they "wasted my time and kept me from learning at the pace that I wanted". That's a far cry from "teaching" me things. So we are working from the base position that these are people who feel that college educates above the level that they would educate themselves. So maybe it did help them to think more critically than before... it's just that the resulting level of critical thinking is too low for most of us to consider it critical at all.

    That's the thing, people who think that college was valuable for learning kind of set themselves up to appear at a vastly different scale than those that found college to be a waste of time.


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    @dashrender said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    Personally - college is to late to start teaching critical thinking.

    That's a great point. But that's part of the problem - people who think college is good for learning things often think that because they failed to learn the same stuff when they were young. So to them it IS valuable, but only because they aren't very... impressive, driven, competent... fill in whatever excuse makes people feel good about learning at 20 what they were originally taught at 10.

    I've been told by a senior, experienced school teacher that she feels that the purpose of college is to teach because you don't learn anything in high school. Which makes a little sense, for those people. But all she told me is that anyone that goes to college is a dolt - and that's from a high school teacher who believes all people without college degrees are worthless because she feels that no one can learn on their own without other people teaching them and that high schools can't do this. <-- That means that her world, the people that she knows which are mostly in education, don't feel that they are teaching or that their students are learning anything from them.

    That's what they think college is for.... fixing total incompetence elsewhere.


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    @dustinb3403 said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    Which my thought process is, being someone who's gone to college, and realized it was a total waste of time, money and my brain was I'd be far better off having a real internship or job with responsibility.

    Right, if they had.... thought critically.


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    The real problem is that there is real value to college. But people having these arguments, that the purpose is to teach adults what we would hope that young children would have already learned, think they are promoting college but actually make it embarrassing and disgraceful. There is no way to point out the lack of critical thinking or logical fallacies in the system without making everyone who went to college feel terrible about it. So people tend to just condescend to them and pretend that they make sense or that it isn't pathetic to have needed to learn that stuff when they were old - and that they never learned it at all, most likely.

    College does have lots of value. But teaching basic common sense is definitely not one of it.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    @dustinb3403 said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    Which my thought process is, being someone who's gone to college, and realized it was a total waste of time, money and my brain was I'd be far better off having a real internship or job with responsibility.

    Right, if they had.... thought critically.

    The stance of the person I was speaking with was political in nature, in that without college, youths will simply believe whatever they are told from government, that college forces critical thinking.

    But college doesn't teach or even force this. College forces dedication to subject matter to get a passing grade. That is all. There is no critical thinking too college.

    Read this, write that, take this quiz or test.

    Nothing is critical thinking, its all regurgitation of printed material.

    Now, that isn't a bad thing for some cases I'm sure, but the underlying argument that college is to teach critical thinking is a complete lie (IMO).


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    @dustinb3403 said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    The stance of the person I was speaking with was political in nature, in that without college, youths will simply believe whatever they are told from government, that college forces critical thinking.

    And that's exactly my concern about college. It preys on people who believes anything that authority figures and the government tells them. Point that out to them... how can "blindly accepting the government's marketing without using critical thinking" be a process that would lead to "critical thinking and questioning the government."


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    @dustinb3403 said in Critical Thinking - Is this what College Teaches?:

    Now, that isn't a bad thing for some cases I'm sure, but the underlying argument that college is to teach critical thinking is a complete lie (IMO).

    Absolutely. Nothing could be more totally opposite. That's why they feel the need to state it so much, because if they didn't keep repeating it, no one would think it was true because observationally, it is the opposite of what actually happens.


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    Same thing with fraternities - more "listen to your peers, follow the group for acceptance, don't stand out as an individual, join a group that sounds like it is independent but is quietly controlled by the 'government'". The more you "get into the college lifestyle" the more you "stop thinking and just follow the crowd".


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    To me, your friends sound like mindless drones repeating what the government told them to make them easy to control. Like how Pure and Cisco start branding old legacy IPODs as hyperconvergence to fool the idiots, college grads rebrand "blindly follow the group" as "critical thinking" and people who hate thinking for themselves gladly accept this because it makes them feel good about their complete lack of thinking for themselves.


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    And I want to keep repeating this... college has value. But this is certainly not it. Critical thinking is specifically one of the farthest things from what college does. College is far better at exposure to culture, making social connections, keeping people out of the workforce so that older workers can have lower unemployment and so forth. There is value, but it's mostly outside of education.


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