A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


March 4, 2016

The Loss Of Critical Thinking and What It Is Costing Us

     I recently read an excellent article by Daniel Juster, an author and Jewish religious leader.  His topic explored the state of our higher education and this generation's loss of real critical thinking skills.  Like him, I have often heard that college students of today are among the most educated in history.  But what are they educated in?  If it is how to navigate the latest in electronic devices, or complex technologies, then I would have to agree.  But are those the skills that will make them good citizens of the world, or productive and moral leaders of tomorrow?
     It seems to me that there has been a "dumbing down" of our cultural history.  The cultural knowledge has suffered from a lack of teaching on how, as a nation, we have arrived at who we are.  And the history part of that knowledge is appallingly deficient.  Juster points out that students cannot even find China on a globe. They cannot grasp many important aspects of World War II, and know barely anything about literature. One young graduate was asked if she knew about Martin Luther. She responded by asking, "You mean the civil rights leader?" He opines that the cultural deposit of the West is simply being squandered. Why?
     To begin with, educators like to discuss the differences between Objectivism and Relativism, and throw words like egocentric and sociocentric tendencies around -- highfalutin words that, to me, just mask the failure of our education system to teach old-fashioned critical thinking.
     And what exactly is Critical Thinking, and why would the lack of it harm our kids and the future of our nation?  The definition of critical thinking is as follows ... the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.  There's that word objective, which is often disparaged in the halls of our universities.   To be objective is to believe that certain things (such as moral truths), exist independently of human knowledge or perception of them.  In other words, there are truths and values that are definite, unconditional, and unquestionable.
     But in this age of relativism, educators are more likely to teach a doctrine or philosophy that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute.  What that means is that our kids are convinced that they should not judge any religion, culture, art or philosophy as superior to another.  They are taught a whole new set of values that have a sliding scale of relevance, depending on an individual's experience.  And depending on the religious, political, and social experience of a university professor, students may be taught a personally biased view of everything from the Founding Fathers as white male oppressors, to the nation of Israel as a colonial power who is oppressing Palestinians.  What is so hypocritical about these positions is that they will be defended as absolute truths, all in the name of relativism.  That reasoning is so contradictory as to be laughable! Do you see the lack of critical thinking?  The lack of any strict analysis or evaluation?
     As an example, feminist leaders of American universities will vote to boycott Israel, when Israel is the only country in the Middle East with full women's rights! Why? Their anti-colonialism simply blinds them to the women who are so oppressed in the Muslim world.  Furthermore, Christianity is despised as judgmental and restrictive, but Islam is to be embraced and respected!
     There is no effort made to study our cultural history and to discover that, yes, the Founding Fathers were slave owners.  But their writings disclose their desire to eliminate the abusive system.  Further study would reveal that they transcended the limits of their time and moved history toward greater human rights and freedom. It was a long historical process, and one that established this nation and its moral foundation.  Yes, at times it was rocky and ugly, but when carefully analyzed and studied, the bigger picture emerges and one sees a more balanced perspective.  But without the practice of critical thinking, and an established and accepted set of moral values, where does one find the real truth?  Isn't it then subject to one person's self-directed and self-monitored thinking?  Do you see that society could soon descend into a morass of confusing standards?
     But perhaps the saddest aspect of it all is that our kids are in danger of being unable to think for themselves and determine a distinction between good and evil.  They are being taught to submit to the herd; that they should not have an opinion that might offend someone else.  What is evil to one person, may be accepted by another, simply because he chooses to see it that way. After all, it's whatever is relevant to each individual, correct?  But here's the thing ... there IS a definite right and wrong in the world!  Not everything can be relegated to someone's self-determined set of moral codes (or lack thereof).  We must regain the ability to think for ourselves and to examine and compare our own decisions, and those of our leaders, to a high and uncompromising standard of righteous living.  I know just the place to start ....

Proverbs 1:7           “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. ”

6 comments:

  1. Belle, Thanks for your article and accurate conclusions. I began college as a student in 1959, obtained three degrees at separate universities, and began teaching at a fourth in 1971. I taught college students for 11 years. The system was in rapid decline during my years at these universities. There is NO WAY college students are better educated now, and they certainly don't have critical thinking skills. If they did, they would reject all the politically correct garbage that has essentially taken over the college campus.

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    1. As a college student in the 70s, I was puzzled at the anti-American teachings coming from my professors and it didn't take long for me to decide that I had to do my own research and come to my own conclusions. I wasn't mature enough in my life experiences yet to realize that there was an agenda being set forth in the education of our young adults. And it has been over 40 years since, so I can imagine the indoctrination our college kids are receiving today.

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  2. I believe that this movement has been going on for a long time, and is culminating now in what the Bible calls "The Last Days". As an example, the American media began in the early 'nineties, a secret campaign to "dumb down" the English used in newspapers and TV/radio to about a Sixth-grade volcabulary. For many years I kept a scrapbook of neat sayings from newspaper columns like the New York Times; "...applying a two-valued solution to an infinitely-complex problem..."; "..a general recognition of the realities of the situation..."; "...your manuscript is both good, and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original, is not good...";"...your other options are broadened commensurately..."; "your equanmity will be shattered...";"...he was caught between the charybdis of command decisions and the scylla of political maneuvers...""...national foresignt capability may well be the camel's nose of central planning, pushing into the tent of a free society." Folks, you simply don't see writing like this in newspapers and TV, anymore! Everything has been dumbed down; everything has been simplified for "the masses".

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    1. You are absolutely correct! I doubt that there are many educated people (no matter what their age) that would be able to explain very many of your examples. Concepts of higher thinking are not encouraged, and certainly debating or discussing variant viewpoints are advised against in favor of compromise and accepted agendas. "The masses" are being deluded into become lemmings, and the nation is on a headlong rush to destruction.

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  3. A well written post Belle! You would also appreciate reading "The Dumbest Generation" by Mark Bauerlein. It clearly demonstrates the effect of the cyberculture on our children and the extreme limitations that result in their knowledge, brain development and critical thinking skills.

    May we raise thinking children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord! Be blessed!

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    1. Yes, Lynn, I am saddened that our children are no longer challenged to explore and question, but rather to get in line with whatever beliefs and policies that their puppet masters embrace. Lord have mercy on this generation!

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