Students and others need to think over skills

August 10, 2017

Re the feature “Fuzzy logic” (3 August) and the debate about whether critical thinking skills give graduates an edge in the jobs market. Lost in this is the question of when and why universities stopped being higher learning institutions and became workforce development centres. Universities never claimed to be sites for job training; why are they criticised on this measure? Why do employers expect workers and taxpayers to fund their training needs?

Also lost in this is the failure of schools to prepare thinking minds. Most students I see just want an outline of tasks that they can complete to get a top grade, or at least a high passing grade. Also, a great many students now work while in higher education, not uncommonly at or near full-time hours. They are not studying outside class for three hours per credit hour. Many do not develop critical thinking because they do not engage with difficult readings, “knock out” complex research papers and generally expend the minimum effort required for a top mark.

And instructors are pressured to accommodate this approach to “learning”. Do not underestimate the impact of online reviews. Pass the class, get the degree, cash it in for a job – that’s the mentality. Yes, universities have some adapting to do, but it’s not all on them.


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