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The centrality of ‘critical thinking’ to higher education

Apr 18, 2022 | SaiU Curriculum, Blogs

During the first and second lockdowns, we received several Whatsapp ‘forward’ messages about COVID-19, and more than half of them were factually incorrect. Still, we have all been guilty of forwarding them to our friends and family members. Do you know why? Our inherent he-said-she-said mindset stops us from thinking logically and factually.

‘Forward’ messages are one of the barrages of information overload we face every day in this digital age. So, is there a scientific way to decipher the factual accuracy of what we hear, read, think, and believe? In these times of information overload, misinformation, and opinions floating as facts, how do we decide what’s right, whom to trust, and what to believe? 

It is not uncommon for us to commit errors in judgement and reasoning–errors that may seem too silly to have occurred when we look back. Can we train ourselves to think more critically and avoid such errors? Thinking systematically, like all skills, is something that one can become better at through training and practice. And this is the rationale underlying the foundation course on critical thinking. 

Critical thinking is a skill that helps us to think clearly,  and arrive at beliefs and decisions that are well-supported with reasons. It involves a disciplined and systematic approach to making decisions through reflective and independent thinking.  The course on critical thinking enables students to reflect on questions such as:

  • What do we mean by thinking and reasoning? 
  • What are the different ways of reasoning? 
  • What are some obstacles that get in the way of thinking and reasoning? 
  • How do we evaluate our beliefs and sources of information?
  • What is knowledge, and how is it different from fact, truth, and opinion?

Critical thinking helps us connect ideas logically, evaluate arguments, find errors and inconsistencies, and arrive at beliefs and decisions that are well-supported with reasons.

By thinking  clearly and systematically about issues of personal and public concern, we are alerted to our own biases and prejudices. When we  overcome them, we develop into  responsible members of society. Critical thinking encourages independent decision-making -– an ability that is valuable to every professional in the knowledge economy. It equips us to come up with creative solutions that involve new and out-of-the-box ideas. And above all, it facilitates clear communication. 

Like most other skills, one gets better at critical thinking with time and practice. To facilitate this,  critical thinking is not limited to just one course–apart from the dedicated course, we have included the principles of critical thinking in all the courses offered in our undergraduate programs.

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