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ERIC Number: EJ854078
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Dec
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0895-4852
Critical Thinking in the Tower Ivory
Whitaker, Albert Keith
Academic Questions, v16 n1 p50-59 Dec 2002
In traveling about contemporary academia, especially the haunts of philosophy and English, one is likely to stumble upon the lair of a new monster, one that bears considerable resemblance to Hawthorne's dreamy vision. The name of this huge miscreant is Critical Thinking--a name uttered by professors and students with more awe than understanding. Though critical thinking found its parentage in schools of education and, as individuals shall see, attained national fame in high schools, it eventually muscled its way to the heights of academia, especially in liberal arts colleges. Its influence of course varies from campus to campus. Critical thinking must be judged not only by its freaks and frauds, but also by what it has destroyed. It has probably made the deepest inroads in English, especially composition courses. Teachers of such classes like to proclaim that students should show up knowing "the basics"--spelling, punctuation, grammar--because college, they add, is about analyzing literature and writing fluently. But under the aegis of critical thinking, composition instructors now can freely spurn what is called "the rules approach." Cluttering students' minds with all these rules, they imply, distracts them from understanding the material, organizing their thoughts, and thinking through their expressions. It is a curious argument, which attempts to strip the meaning of such expressions from their forms--a certain arrangement of letters, a comma or a semi-colon, the use of the active or the passive voice, for example. Such an approach denies students the ability to wield their own thoughts in a disciplined manner, resulting most often in the half-thoughts of sentence fragments or the stream-of-consciousness blather of run-on sentences. It also ignores the difficulty faced by students who do not know "the rules" when they have to read any complicated piece of poetry or prose. But then, as many teachers have discovered, one way to avoid this impasse is for students to read and comment upon only the poorly written work of their peers. (Contains 28 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A