Being a good critical thinker is a desirable trait for getting a job in today’s economy. What business or enterprise does not want a good critical thinker?
Actually, none of this is really new – although the pace might have quickened of late.
Employers increasingly recognise what is needed in graduates is not so much technical knowledge, but applied skills, especially skills in critical thinking.
These skills are also said to be important within companies themselves as drivers of employee comprehension and decision making. If we do not have a clear idea of what it is, we can’t teach it.
It is hard to define things like critical thinking: the concept is far too abstract.
Some have claimed that critical thinking is not a skill as much as an attitude, a “critical spirit” — whatever that might mean (of course it could be both).
Universities claim that they impart critical thinking to students as a “graduate attribute”.
Look at any carefully-prepared institutional list of hoped-for graduate attributes.
Over the years theorists have tried to nail down a definition of critical thinking.
These include: “…reflective and reasonable thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do.” “…the ability to analyse facts, generate and organise ideas, defend opinions, make comparisons, draw inferences, evaluate arguments and solve problems.” “…an awareness of a set of interrelated critical questions, plus the ability and willingness to ask and answer them at appropriate times.” “…thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking to make your thinking better.” Whatever definition one plumps for, the next question that arises is what are universities doing about teaching it?