“New Research Suggests That Graduates Don’t Possess the Critical Thinking Skills Employers Deem Necessary.”
“Many Colleges Fail to Improve Critical Thinking Skills.”
“Why College Graduates Still Can’t Think.”
Do these headlines sound familiar? Read any trade journal, magazine, or newspaper and they all decry the current state of fresh, new graduates entering the marketplace with lackluster critical thinking skills.
Korn (2014) asserted that “Mentions of critical thinking in job postings have doubled since 2009, according to an analysis by career-search site Indeed.com. The site, which combs job ads from several sources, found last week that more than 21,000 health-care and 6,700 management postings contained some reference to the skill (para. 2).
Korn further asserted that there isn’t a consensus about what critical thinking means among corporate managers and job recruiters, and there doesn’t seem to be any relief coming anytime soon.
A Google search reported that “Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments that are logical and well thought out. It is a way of thinking in which you don’t simply accept all arguments and conclusions you are exposed to, but rather have an attitude involving questioning such arguments and conclusions.”
The American Academy of Advanced Thinking defines “Critical thinking as the systematic approach to dissecting, and analyzing problems and developing solutions through benchmarking best practices.”
With all this dissension over critical thinking within corporate structures, what role should educators play in creating a consensus, as well as becoming the vanguard of a new generation of thought leaders, scholars, and intellectuals?
Should educators be leading the charge and marketing the solutions inside and outside of education?
If so, how should educators go about adding, yet another, responsibility to their already full plate?
Essentially, educators can begin imparting greater critical thinking and thought leadership skills in their classrooms by doing the following.
- Add a critical thinking and thought leadership model to the current curriculum. Although many school districts require that educators follow a prescribed plan for students, adding a critical thinking model that serves as a foundation for all curriculum is a way of institutionalizing critical thinking into a the lesson plan. When the IBAR Critical Thinking Method was instituted into a G.E.D program within the Atlanta Public School System, there was a spike in reading and writing levels, as well as an increase in student engagement. Purported “At Risk,” youths began citing facts and figures into their analyses, which made these discussions more scholarly. Educators can raise the intellectual level of class discussions by centering lectures on a critical thinking model.
- Show students how to document, package, and distribute intellectual property. The objective of critical thinking is not only to merely decipher fact from fiction, but to create intellectual property that solve industry problems that set students up to become industry thought leaders. Students that develop articles, books, podcasts, and videos are creating e-portfolios that demonstrate their ability to think critically, make decisions, and solve problems. Just as an artist would have a portfolio of sketches, so should students have a portfolio that showcases their work to industry decision makers and job recruiters.
- Create a LinkedIn profile showcasing students’ work. One of the best social media sites to create a body of work is LinkedIn. Educators should ensure that every student has a LinkedIn profile before graduating high school or college with vetted articles, books, podcasts, and videos demonstrating a compelling problem that students have developed recommendations for solving. As interests change, students can modify their LinkedIn profile, as a means of marketing themselves to hiring managers, as well as demonstrating their personal and professional evolution. By using social media to demonstrate intellectual prowess, students create a scholastic imprint for hiring managers to follow.
As corporate managers bicker and banter over the dearth of critical thinking skills among graduates, educators can begin quashing the noise by helping students build intellectual heft before students begin the hiring process.
Finally, students don’t know what they don’t know. As a result, progressive and innovative educators have to lead them to becoming the next generation of thought leaders and intellectual giants or the paradise of intellectualism will be lost.
Edward Brown, M.S.
Korn, M. (2014, Oct. 21). Bosses Seek ‘Critical Thinking,’ but What Is That? The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/bosses-seek-critical-thinking-but-what-is-that-1413923730.