Unbelievable: Courses in Critical thinking! #change11

In a tweet of Kelly A F Burton she mentions an interesting article of Peter Wood on Critical Thinking (CT) .  Peter Wood has some critical thoughts on courses on CT in US colleges. I did not know CT is a subject in US colleges. As I do understand these  are courses which teach a different approach to some subjects. Some courses  teach methods of thinking, as I understand the article well.  Peter Woods doubts if these courses really teach  critical thinking.

“… Indoctrination is not and never will be “critical thinking…. ” (Peter Wood).  In the Sixties, “krities” (a modern form of ‘critical’) stood for political and leftist content in my country. It seems this history is repeating in the US.

In a MOOC critical thinking is possible and not dangerous for grades or assessment, because teacher authority is not important in a MOOC. In a classroom authority of teachers is important and CT is threatening authority.

What if in this course “NDS 325 Black Feminist Literary Theory and Practice”  a white male student (do they attend these courses?) is critical on the content of the course and the way the teacher selects topics in the course and what happens if he has different opinions? Students in courses like this want to have good grades. Do most of them avoid being critical? (I would)

I suppose CT is a range of  different qualities of thinking:


2 thoughts on “Unbelievable: Courses in Critical thinking! #change11

  1. Many of the courses seem to focus on imagining the experience of others without having the experience yourself. This sort of detached “experience from a distance” is well meant but phony empathy. Here in Canada the best term for it is “shedding crocodile tears”. Do the Dutch shed crocodile tears?

    Possibly a related bit of commentary:
    The Walrus and The Carpenter
    Lewis Carroll
    (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

    “It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
    “To play them such a trick,
    After we’ve brought them out so far,
    And made them trot so quick!”
    The Carpenter said nothing but
    “The butter’s spread too thick!”

    “I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
    “I deeply sympathize.”
    With sobs and tears he sorted out
    Those of the largest size,
    Holding his pocket-handkerchief
    Before his streaming eyes.

    “O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
    “You’ve had a pleasant run!
    Shall we be trotting home again?’
    But answer came there none–
    And this was scarcely odd, because
    They’d eaten every one.

    Not that a person can’t legitimately understand the suffering of others but it takes an appreciation of many viewpoints, including the potential that you yourself could be wrong. School is too much of an imaginary construct to foster understanding at a personal level.


  2. Scott, a poem is a nice way to communicate. Thanks for Alice.
    Yes we use krokodilletranen the same as you.
    Erasmus used the phrase and after him Shakespeare and Bredero (famous Dutch poet)
    In 1287 the phrase was used by Jacob van Maerlant.
    Ah nice little useless facts, 😉

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