Critical Thought

Occidental prides itself on giving students a well-rounded, liberal arts education that fosters critical thinking and deep analysis in the classroom. In the novel, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, the authors begin to inform the audience of the fear that colleges are not actually provoking deep critical thought. It is noted, “These diverse concerns about the state of undergraduate education have served to draw attention to measuring whether students are actually developing the capacity for critical thinking and complex reasoning at college” (9). The reason why this attitude for critical thinking has become so prevalent is because students see education as a way to get good grades while doing the least amount of work as possible rather than really thinking about certain material and spending time understanding it. I believe that this student attitude was rooted in the rapidly growing competitive nature of classes, grades, and education. It is imperative in today’s society that one gets beyond acceptable grades in order to be accepted into a top-notch college, and then be able to get the grades to work at a high paying job. This makes students feel as if all they have to live for is getting great grades, which takes the critical thought out of education. At this point, students completely want to disregard the understanding and learning aspect and just focus on what they need to do to get a great grade with as little work as possible. The value of higher education thus diminishes because the student ends up taking less and less away from each class, and all they have to show for it is a high letter grade. Critical thought in the classroom is indeed dying, which is why it is up to the liberal arts colleges to revive it. Liberal arts colleges, like Oxy, give students the tools necessary to learn how to critically think, analysis, and express themselves. Critical thinking is the ability to think as an individual and gather insightful comments, questions, and ideas from a particular source. Not only do liberal arts colleges support critical thinking, but they also encourage students to share their own individualistic ideas with one another in order to learn from diverse perspectives. Clearly, critical thought and the ability to think critically is vital for a growing society and it is up to liberal arts colleges to reestablish this powerful educational asset in today’s classroom.

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