30 January 2006


I was just talking to a friend about critical thinking skills, and the commonplace lack thereof, and how this is one of the things everyone should learn in school. And I now learn that we ain't even close.
More than half of students at four-year colleges --- and at least 75 percent at two-year colleges --- lack the literacy to handle complex, real-life tasks ...
Like what?
They cannot interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.
Good gods. Apparently the survey showed folks were worst at math. I'm not talking about understanding calculus, here.
Almost 20 percent of students pursuing four-year degrees had only basic quantitative skills. For example, the students could not estimate if their car had enough gas to get to the service station.
You can download the full report if you want. I'm not sure I can face it.
"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director ...
"Kind of" disturbing? Ya think?

Look at that first list of examples of things that folks cannot do. Notice something? They're all areas where people were asked to read something that would likely be written with an intent to deceive them. But I'd guess that the folks who created this study didn't even use particularly deceptive examples. And we live in a society where deceiving us has become an industrial process.

The Man doesn't want you to have critical thinking skills. Be a rebel. Go get yourself some.

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