Category: Critical thinking
Who is this programme for?.
The ICC undergraduate foundation programme is designed for international students who want to study for an undergraduate degree at a British university. You may need to complete a foundation programme if either of the two conditions below apply to you:
The ICC undergraduate foundation programme is a 10-month programme combining academic and language study for students whose academic background does not allow them to enter a British university directly. Since the ICC undergraduate foundation course started in 1985 over 2000 of our students have gone on to degree courses at British universities.
A distinguishing feature of the programme is that language teaching and learning is directly linked to the material covered in academic subjects, so that students learn to understand and use the language required for the subjects they intend to study at university.
Winner of ICC Progress Prize 2014-5
Studying BSc Business Studies at City University
“What I appreciate most from ICC foundation programme at SOAS is the academic support that I received. It helped me enhance a number of study areas such as analytical and critical thinking, as well as my research skills, which enabled me to make great progress and achieve a high level of academic performance in a different education system. It was also a wonderful experience to meet the world in SOAS.”
Winner of ICC Achievement Prize 2014-15 Studying BSc Mathematics at Durham
“Joining ICC was one of the best choices I have ever made. It gave me an invaluable opportunity to be accepted into my dream university and an insight into real university life. The knowledge and academic skills it provided have equipped me for my undergraduate studies, and I benefitted from constant assistance offered by my lecturers and tutors. Moreover, it enabled me to get involved in the SOAS Students’ Union which gave me a sense of community, not to mention the wonderful friendships that were formed there. Overall, it was a constructive and enjoyable experience!”
Students who successfully complete the ICC programme can continue their undergraduate studies at SOAS if they meet the normal entry level standards of the department and will receive a 5% discount in all 3 years of undergraduate study. However the ICC certificate award from the University of London is recognised by all British universities as an entrance qualification for undergraduate degree programmes and the Academic Advice Unit in the department helps students with every stage of the university application procedure. Listing of the destinations of students who finished the programme last year
All teaching is done by SOAS staff on the Central London campus, within walking distance of the SOAS Hall of Residence and the West End of London.Programme Aims
A distinctive feature of teaching and learning in the Department is the integration of language and subject teaching to consolidate and develop the language skills and academic knowledge you will need to successfully complete an undergraduate degree programme in the UK.
The ICC undergraduate foundation programme aims to provide:Academic study
ICC: Tuesday 20 September 2016 - Friday 30 June 2017
ICC Plus: Monday 1 August 2016 - Friday 30 June 2017
Summer Vacation Term (ICC Plus): 1 August - 9 September 2016
Introductory Course: 20 - 28 September 2016
Autumn Term: 3 October - 16 December 2016 (Reading Week: 7 - 11 November)
Spring Term 2017: 9 January - 24 March 2017 (Reading Week: 13 - 17 February)
Summer Term 2017: 24 April - 30 June 2017 (No Reading Week)Fees 2016-17
ICC: £16,200 (September entry)
ICC Plus: £18,700 (July entry)
Application fee. NO FEE before 30 April 2016. £90.00 payable after 1 May please pay at our online store.
All fees must be paid in full before the start date of the programme. For instructions on how to pay see IFCELS Fees.Entry Requirements and Application August and September entry points
ICC has entry points in early August and mid-September. Students who need to focus on their reading and writing skills before they start the academic subject modules will be asked to join the programme in August.Academic Qualifications
You should have successfully completed high school in your own country with good grades in a range of subjects.Language level
You need to have an intermediate level of English before starting the programme. Preparatory English language programmes in the department start in September, January and April and during the summer there is a range of summer courses offering academic subject study together with English language classes.Entrance Test
When we receive your application and supporting documents we will look at them carefully and then decide if we will consider you for a place on ICC. We will assess your application by interview, either face-to-face in London or in your own country, or by Skype. We may also ask you to take all or part of our entrance test, depending on your English level. The following tests and levels can be used to show that you meet our English language requirements:
ICC applicants who require a student visa must achieve CEFR B1 level in an approved English test - for example minimum IELTS 4.0 in each sub-score. IELTS tests taken after 6 April 2015 and being used for visa purposes must be from one of the approved IELTS for UKVI test centres. Check this list of centres carefully
Please note: iBT TOEFL and Pearson PTE Academic are no longer an approved test for visa purposesApplication Procedure
Please print and fill out the ICC 2016 Application Form then you can e-mail it to us at email@example.com
Head of Department
International Foundation Courses & English Language Studies (IFCELS)
SOAS (University of London)
23/24 Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG UKStructure
Summer vacation term
Students who need to improve their reading and writing skills before tackling the academic modules on ICC, will be asked to take the summer vacation term.
Using a combination of intensive language study, frequent controlled practice and close monitoring by an English tutor, students will achieve a sound basis of reading and writing skills which will enable them to approach their future study programme with confidence. A feature of the term is regular one-to-one tutorials with the teacher in order to address a student’s individual problems and a focus on drafting, proofreading and redrafting writing to achieve grammatical accuracy.
The Summer Vacation term is 6 weeks long and students have 18 hours of classes a week.Number of hours
From September, students have a minimum of 19 hours of classes a week (reducing to 17 in term 2, and 15 in term 3), and you will be expected to study at least as many hours outside class reviewing and preparing for classes, reading, completing homework tasks and writing module assignments.Types of classes
There is a range of class styles - students attend lectures, small group tutorials of 10 students and English language classes with a normal maximum of 12 students.Timetable of classes
From September to June, classes are taught over 3 terms, each 10 weeks long. There is a reading week (a week without classes) in the middle of both the Autumn and Spring terms to give students a chance to catch up with their reading and work on their assignments.
There are practice exams ("Mocks") at the end of the spring term and final exams take place in the last three weeks of the academic year.Subjects of study
All students on the undergraduate foundation programme study:
In view of the end of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) on 31 December 2013. the Comenius-Grundtvig Training In-Service Training Database will cease to operate as will the individual grants for "In-Service Training" and "Visits and Exchanges" actions of the Programme. As the last application deadline for IST grants under the LLP is 17 September 2013. no new IST training events are added in the Database after this date. The database will be closed on 15 June 2014 .
Until that date the database will display only the events starting on 30 April 2014 at the latest, which is the last possible start date for the Comenius and Grundtvig training activities under the LLP.
For more information about the new EU programme in the field of education, training, youth and sport, "Erasmus+", please consult:
COMENIUS AND GRUNDTVIG
IN-SERVICE TRAINING FOR SCHOOL AND ADULT EDUCATORS
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Welcome to the Comenius and Grundtvig Training Database.
This Training Database contains information about in-service training courses, seminars and conferences offered in Europe for teachers, teacher trainers and non-teaching staff involved in school education (from pre-primary up to upper secondary) or adult education.
All training events are for a European audience and their overall objective is to help participants upgrade their professional skills in the field of education. The events are organised by various training providers who submit their training offers to the National Agencies of the Lifelong Learning Programme. set up in all the participating countries.
Costs of participation in the training events can be supported with Comenius In-Service Training for Teachers and other Educational Staff grants, with Grundtvig In-Service Training for Adult Education Staff grants (for training courses) and Grundtvig Visits & Exchanges for Adult Education Staff grants (for seminars and conferences), for which interested people should apply to their respective National Agencies. Please refer to the website of your National Agency for further information.
Choosing a training event from this Training Database does not guarantee being awarded a Comenius or Grundtvig grant. Persons who wish to apply for a Comenius or Grundtvig grant for a training event which does not appear in this Database are free to do so.
The Comenius and Grundtvig Training Database is maintained by the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission with the collaboration of the National Agencies of the Lifelong Learning Programme. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability with regard to the content of the training events on offer.
April 10 th to 16 th 2016 sees the annual event that is known as 'Homeopathy Awareness Week'. Normally awareness promotion campaigns are done in order to benefit the public in some way. e.g. promoting awareness of symptoms of breast or testicular cancer. However, this awareness campaign is run by homeopaths for the benefit of, well, homeopaths. This 'awareness week' is really nothing more than an advertising campaign.
However, it is worth the general public becoming more aware of homeopathy and the (. )
The Open University and futurelearn.com. with the support of Dangoor Education, are offering a free, 8-week course on the moons of our solar system.
It begins on the 17 th March, lasts for 8 weeks and requires (. )
Climate change is an issue that's very difficult for the layperson to evaluate as it's such a diverse topic involving many areas of science. It isn't easy to develop a good, basic understanding of the issue based on the science behind it as it's all so complex.
Fortunately, the Royal Society and (. )
From the Open University to all followers and students:
Hay Festival 23 May – 2 June 2013
The Open University is delighted to be working in association with the Hay Festival again this year with three events being held during the programme on Saturday 25 May. The festival, in its 26 th year, is (. )
Fraudster James McCormick, 57, of Langport, Somerset has been jailed for 10 years for selling fake bomb detectors.
The bomb detectors were basically dowsing devices. They consisted of a handle with a freely swinging antenna that would (. )
"Supermarkets are pandering to misplaced consumer fears about the health risks of of widely used food ingredients in a cynical marketing move, a group representing young scientists has warned."
The Voice of Young Science (VoYS ) has written a letter to the (. )
In the wake of the measles outbreak in Swansea, concern has been growing about whether people have not only been avoiding vaccinating their children because of unfounded scaremongering in the press but also because they're choosing so-called 'alternative vaccinations' such as homeopathic vaccinations (or (. )
A remake of the film The Dam Busters is being written and this has led to an issue regarding the Dam Busters' mascot: a dog that was called "Nigger". Should the remake of the movie remain true to historical accuracy or should a less emotive name be used instead considering that historical (. )
Advertisers love to market their products with appeals to nature. This is because we have a twisted idea about the reality of nature whereby we think it's all harmonious, balanced, everything about nature is inherently good and so on. This false belief is described by the naturalistic fallacy or appeal to (. )
£770 plus VAT
This programme leads its participants through the engaging experience of taping into their creativity; developing emerging ideas; evaluating the viability of these ideas through a process of critical thinking; linking in the synergistic potential of working with others and channelling the resulting strategies into reality.
The programme incorporates the profiling of personal thinking styles and comparisons with the styles and impact of colleagues and the drivers of thinking preferences. Participants will experience the power of positive thinking and communication approaches.
At the end of the programme, students will be able to:
1. Understand different thinking styles and preferences.
2. Recognise the impact of their own thinking style on their work performance and on others
3. Apply a balanced approach towards creative thinking and the generation of optimal decision making.
4. Promote and deliver more creative solutions into practical implementation
5. Identify an Action Plan to stimulate increased Creative and Critical Thinking in the their own area of the workplace.
This course will be conducted in the English language.
Training courses in this section include:
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A new online course in critical thinking is now available. This course covers the full range of critical thinking skills and has examples and exercises drawn especially from business and management.
The course provides:
Please contact us to view a sample of the course.Latest News
The two videos on critical thinking that are already on this website can now be seen with Portuguese subtitles. They are already available in this form on You Tube, and will also be on our website shortly. The skills of …
+ Read more
When I was presenting at the International Conference on Thinking in Wellington, New Zealand, in January 2013, I was asked to speak on critical thinking for a short video. In this video I talk about the central importance of creativity …
+ Read more
A distance learning course is the ideal way to gain the qualification in Project Management Professional (PMP). Whether you're looking to go on to further education, improve your job prospects or expand your knowledge, distance learning Project Management Professional (PMP) 2011 exam prep is a flexible and convenient course, which allows you to comprehensively prepare for an exam or career through home study. What's more, because the distance learning Project Management Professional (PMP) 2011 exam prep course is a fully comprehensive course, no prior knowledge is required. This course has been designed to prepare participants to take the Project Management Institute's Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam, 2011 edition and is based on the information covered in the 11 areas of study used to formulate the exam, including the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) - Fourth Edition. This is an advanced level course that will count for 21 PMI PDU/Contact Hours. In additi. (Training Available by UK Learning College) Project Management Professional (PMP) 2011 Exam Prep
Offered by UK Learning College, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesIT Project Management Pro Plus
IT Project Management Course Duration: 4 days Course Code: GK2819 Course Description: This course focuses on IT projects and everything they encompass - hardware, software, vendor relationships, communication mechanisms for different audiences, and how to work with local and remote teams. Understand how to start an IT project with a clearly defined scope, how to set and manage stakeholder expectations, how to identify and deal with typical IT risks, and how to meet quality standards.Course ObjectivesAfter completing this course, you will be able to:- Understand the IT project life cycle - Build an IT project business case - Define the IT project scope & expectations - Identify project stakeholders - Define roles and responsibilities - Build an effective project schedule - Develop an accurate project budget - Create project management plans - Procure key project resources (human and capital) - Identify, assess, and manage risk - Establish quality metrics - Monitor the project prog. (Training Available by Perpetual Training Solutions) IT Project Management
Offered by Perpetual Training Solutions, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesCritical Thinking A' Level (Full AS + A2) Course Pro Plus
COURSE OVERVIEWA distance learning course is the ideal way to gain an A Critical Thinking (Full AS + A2) Course. Whether you're looking to go on to further education, improve your job prospects or expand your knowledge, distance learning A Level Critical Thinking is a flexible and convenient course, which allows you to comprehensively prepare for the A Level Critical Thinking exam through home study. What's more, because the distance learning A Level Critical Thinking course is a fully comprehensive course, no prior knowledge is required.AS Critical Thinking Critical Thinking develops the ability to make sense of arguments and ideas. People who question what they read in the newspaper and enjoy reading between the lines, by analysing the language used in a logical way, will enjoy this course. As well as being lively and enjoyable in its own right it can help improve study and communication skills. On this basis, Critical Thinking can be a very useful way to support the study of other s. (Training Available by UK Learning College) Critical Thinking A' Level (Full AS + A2) Course
Offered by UK Learning College, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesProject Management for Non-Project Managers Pro Plus
Project Management for Non-Project Managers Course Duration: 1 Day Course Code: MPDPMNPM Course Description: Do you need to get better control of key business initiatives but can’t fight your way past the jargon of project management? Do you need to understand and contribute to projects in your organisation but have no desire to become a project manager? Would you like to have a better sense of control over what you and others are doing? Do you want to set clearer objectives for yourself and others? Would you like to be more proactive in your work and less reactive? Are you trying to convince your staff of the benefits of project management? This fun and highly interactive day uses a team based simulation to take you through the challenges of selecting, prioritising, and implementing service improvement projects in a way that lets you see immediately the organisational impact of the decisions you make. You will work in small teams in a safe but competitive environment and you. (Training Available by Perpetual Training Solutions) Project Management for Non-Project Managers
Offered by Perpetual Training Solutions, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesProject Management Pro Plus
Project Management Course Duration: 5 Days Course Code: PJM Course Description: Project Managers are key to the success of all projects, and hold the responsibility for managing them on behalf of the business organisation which commissioned them. Therefore it is imperative that all Project Managers acquire and can apply certain core competencies necessary to deliver successful projects in today's dynamic business environment.This course aims to take managers with some experience of running small projects and equip them with the key competencies to be successful Project Managers. These competencies include the ability to manage time, cost, people, quality and risk. The experiential nature of the course reinforces and encourages the use of best practice.With the increasing significance being placed on the achievement of professional qualifications, this course represents a significant module in The Project Management Accreditation Programme. This course helps to establish the knowledge. (Training Available by Perpetual Training Solutions) Project Management
Offered by Perpetual Training Solutions, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesProject Management Professional (PMP) 2011 Exam Prep Pro Plus
COURSE OVERVIEW A distance learning course is the ideal way to gain the qualification in Project Management Professional (PMP). Whether you're looking to go on to further education, improve your job prospects or expand your knowledge, distance learning Project Management Professional (PMP) 2011 exam prep is a flexible and convenient course, which allows you to comprehensively prepare for an exam or career through home study. What's more, because the distance learning Project Management Professional (PMP) 2011 exam prep course is a fully comprehensive course, no prior knowledge is required. This course has been designed to prepare participants to take the Project Management Institute's Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam, 2011 edition and is based on the information covered in the 11 areas of study used to formulate the exam, including the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) - Fourth Edition. This is an advanced level course that will count for 21 PMI PDU/Contact. (Training Available by UK Learning College) Project Management Professional (PMP) 2011 Exam Prep
Offered by UK Learning College, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesChange Management Foundation & Practitioner Pro
The course will help you gain a better understanding of different frameworks and ways of approaching and leading change at an individual, team or organisational level. Four main themes are covered:Individual change Whatever the level or degree of organisational change, the people on the receiving end are the ones who will ultimately cause the change to be a success or a failure. The issues people face when dealing with change and approaches for dealing with resistance are covered.Team change This module focuses on the challenges faced by teams when they are formed and transitioning through change initiatives and approaches for how to manage them.Organisational change This module focuses on different types of organisations and the selection of differing approaches and frameworks, for the successful delivery of organisational change within the varying cultures.Leading change A thread running throughout the course is the crucial role of leadership. Different styles of leadership and their. (Training Available by ChangeQuest Ltd) Change Management Foundation & Practitioner
Offered by ChangeQuest Ltd, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesControlCenter Management Pro
DescriptionYou will learn to monitor and manage users, alerts, and performance reports. You will also learn about SAN configuration, storage provisioning, and business continuity operations. Prepare for your Specialist-level Storage Administrator Storage Management Certification. Administration, user management, alert management, reporting, performance management, Symmetrix and CLARiiON configuration management, SAN management, Symmetrix business continuance operations, host management, automated pathing, and storage provisioningObjectives• Determine and administer ControlCenter security, users, resource allocation/utilization, and data collection policies • Manage alerts and autofixes, customize reports, and leverage performance management tools • Perform configuration management tasks for SAN and storage devices and business continuity operationsParticipantsBenefits any storage professional who deploys and manages an information and storage infrastructure using EMC C. (Training Available by Arrow ECS Education) ControlCenter Management
Offered by Arrow ECS Education, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesEvent Management - The Next Step Pro
Duration: A one day courseSuitable for: Designed as a follow-on from the introduction to event management seminar, this course is for those people with some event management experience and, is designed to give organisers of business events, such as conferences, corporate hospitality, product launches, dinners, awards, exhibitions, team building, reward and appreciation events, the essential tools to deliver high quality event experiences time and time again.Objectives: By the end of the course you will learn how to: • set event aims and objectives • design and create your event • effectively promote your event • manage your event budgets • design your event programme • evaluate your chosen venue • design and plan your site • produce and theme your event • risk assess and manage basic health and safety at your event • coordinate the delivery of your event• evaluate your event • deliver very special events!Locations: Guildford. (Training Available by GBC Learning & Development) Event Management - The Next Step
Offered by GBC Learning & Development, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesCLARiiON Host Integration and Management with SnapView Pro
Overview of CLARiiON CX3 /CX4 Models, Security and Basic Management, Storage Provisioning and Management, Host Integration Basics, Host Integration - Windows, Host Configuration - Linux, Advanced Storage Pool and LUN Concepts, Alerts and Event Monitor, Navisphere Analyzer, Navisphere Quality of Service Manager (NQM), SnapView Principles, SnapView Snapshots, SnapView Clones)• Use EMC Navisphere Manager and other components of the EMC Navisphere suite in a practical environment• Explain how SnapView makes copies of LUNs• Configure Snapshots• Explain how SnapView makes Clones of LUNs• Explain the operation of the Clone Private LUNDates Available: 17th May, 7th June, 28th June, 2nd August, 6th September, 18th October, 22nd November, 13th December.Location: BrentfordPurchase Options:CLARiiON Management ValuePak - CE-VALPAKCLN $2,970 - Includes one Instructor-Led course and four self-paced e-Learning courses.CLARiiON Solutions for Small and Medium Enterprises - CE-. (Training Available by Arrow ECS Education) CLARiiON Host Integration and Management with SnapView
Offered by Arrow ECS Education, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesNAS Operations & Management with Celerra Pro
NAS Operations and Management with Celerra (Instructor-Led) Celerra Manager, Celerra CLI, basic network config, configuring file systems, exporting file systems to UNIX, usermapper, configuring CIFS, virtual data movers, managing permissions on CIFS-only environment, authentication, file systems quotas, CIFS features, networking features, celerra and ISCSI, snapsure, Celerra replicator.• Implement Data Mover failover and basic network configurations• Configure and manage Celerra file systems• Export Celerra file systems for NFS and CIFS access• Implement Virtual Data Movers, file system quotas on the Celerra, CIFS features, Celerra in an iSCSI environment, SnapSure, and Celerra Replicator• Configure Celerra Networking featuresPurchase OptionsCelerra ValuePak - CE-VALPAKNS $4,950 - Includes one Instructor-Led course, one Video-ILT* and six self-paced e-Learning courses (*Upper Layer Network Operations).Celerra Video ValuePak - CE-VIDVPKNS $1,980 - Includes two. (Training Available by Arrow ECS Education) NAS Operations & Management with Celerra
Offered by Arrow ECS Education, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesProject Management an Introduction Pro
Duration: A one day training courseSuitable for: Project managers, team leaders and business people who are involved in projects - no prior knowledge of Project Management is assumed.Objectives:• Be able to clearly define what a project is know how it differs from normal management tasks• Understand why projects fail and identify the key principles for success• Know the skills and qualities that an effective project manager needs • Be able to set clear and realistic objectives for a project and understand the stages of the project life cycle. • Know how to plan, organise and track a project• Be aware of how to identify and log your project risks• Have an understanding of the tools and documents that can be used in project management.Locations: Guildford, Surrey & London. (Training Available by GBC Learning & Development) Project Management an Introduction
Offered by GBC Learning & Development, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesChange Management Pro
Duration: A one day courseSuitable for: This course is suitable for Managers, HR practitioners and anyone who is responsible for implementing, guiding and managing change. It will help to develop their skills and knowledge in effective change management tools and techniques.Objectives:• Gain a better understanding of the drivers for change • Understand why your staff might resist change • Gain knowledge of tools and techniques to analyse and overcome the barriers to change • Understand which steps need to be taken to ensure change is managed and implemented effectively• Assess the change situation in your own organization and create an Action PlanLocations: Guildford, Surrey & London. (Training Available by GBC Learning & Development) Change Management
Offered by GBC Learning & Development, Alternatives:1 of 7594 courses & classesGet Advice about critical chain project management Education Options
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The programme is designed to enable students to acquire a critical understanding of contemporary architecture and debates; it believes that this is best achieved through an approach to architecture as an outcome of history and of controversies; it considers modernism in terms of its buildings and projects, its narratives and its architects, and outlines the history of architectural theory up to the present day; central to the course is a consideration of a variety of interpretations of 20th'century architecture, in terms of formal architectural analysis, the analysis of space and the different theories that inform these analyses.Course Additional Entry
Applicants require a 2nd Class Honours degree in architecture or related discipline from a British university or an overseas qualification of equivalent standard from a course of no less than 3 years' duration in a university or educational institution of university rank. Students whose 1st language is not English require IELTS 6.5 or equivalent (with a minimum 6.0 in each component).
Duration & Attendance
In promoting the value of critical thinking people too often forget that critical thinking is itself something that needs to be thought about critically. There is a risk that we, as teachers, organise activities which require students to do things like check facts, look for assumptions, sift out opinions and prejudices, and identify vested interests, and so on, complacently assuming that we are being true to the values making critique so urgent. But are we?
The currently dominant notion of critical thinking reduces critique to a universally applicable method. It has its roots in the mentality articulated perfectly by Descartes in the early 17th century when he wrote his Discourse on Method. The aim of Descartes and the other Enlightenment rationalists was to find a method of thinking that would free us from prejudice, bias and the contingencies of our epoch so we could draw conclusions that any rational, thinking being could recognise as valid, and we could then use those as foundational principles for a bright, new, rational social order.
From a website that is at the top of page one for searches online for “critical thinking”:
People who think critically are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked. They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies. They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers [to] improve their reasoning abilities and [avoid falling] prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.
Critical thinking is a tool – a tool to be used to fend off the forces of individualism and of a society whose received ideas have not yet been scrutinised by the power of a universalising intellect. This is critical thinking of the sort that carries on the crusade of the Enlightenment. At secondary school level, however, a lite version is more common, replacing the crusading spirit with a concern to ensure that students have the tools to succeed in the world of work. A good example from another education website begins: “As educators, we constantly strive to prepare our students for the ‘real world’ that exists around them.” The blog post continues by stressing the impossibility of knowing the world the students are being prepared for, and the phrase “real world” is put in quotation marks, indicating that we are not sure what deserves to be called real any longer. As teachers, we are “preparing students for the unknown.” A difficult task. But thankfully, the author informs us, someone with impeccable qualifications from Harvard University has identified seven skills which we know students will need to succeed in that unknowable world with its doubtful sense of reality. The first of those is: critical thinking. “Regardless of the field they choose to enter for their careers, the ability to think and act quickly is an indispensable tool for the future.”
Gone is the vision of a society moving out of a dark past towards a brighter, more rational order – a vision which, in any case, came to look ridiculous after the gulags, the perfectly organised concentration camps, and the Hiroshimas prepared for by some of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century. The lite version of critical thinking is more in tune with a society that no longer has a vision of itself – a social mechanism running instead on auto-pilot. The real world is now an unknowable world talked of as if it were a jungle in which people need survival skills. And insofar as this way of framing things is communicated to students, they learn that they are on their own, thrown into a hostile environment, where only those with specialised training will stand a chance of making it.
In the 18th century the Enlightenment advocates of critical thinking took it for granted that advances in thinking would spearhead tremendous social progress – not so much technical progress as a moral progress in which the good would finally prevail. Kant, with his essay defining the Enlightenment as the epoch in which people would at last begin to think for themselves, assumed this would move the world closer to a state of universal peace. How different things are now, when the best we can hope is that our students will survive in a digitally-enhanced jungle.
If someone insisted now that a course in critical thinking must also be a peace studies course, would people not be frowning, wondering what the connection was? The value is now not peace or a world in which the good prevails, but survival – survival in a world which is as dark and unknown as the one the Enlightenment believed it was banishing for ever. Or the value is success – reaping the rewards of a job well done in the service of that dark and unknown world.
This way of framing critical thinking is complicit in the perpetuation of the very thing that calls for critique: an untrue world. What sort of world will our former-students be perpetuating when they are focusing so narrowly – so mindlessly – on survival or success? Critique has been cut short when critical thinking activities are framed to promote the very values that cry out for critique, and students are, in effect, being trained to keep their heads down, concentrating – the perfect preparation for a future in which they will be obliged to accept minor positions in an incomprehensible division of labour, skillfully solving the problems posed as quickly and efficiently as possible, hoping to reap the rewards of a job well done, never worrying how that individual success might be advancing a social – a global – failure.
Students are taught to think outside the box only to the degree that they will be better adapted to living inside a box.
To think more intelligently about critical thinking we have to go back to what it is that calls for critique. What is it? What do we need to be most critical of at this point in history? There is no single answer, but surely one of our concerns has to be with a world that reduces human life to a struggle for survival and leaves students with nothing that speaks against the hideous domination of a mindless notion of success.
An intelligent education for critique has to be one that enables students to do two things that contradict the very way in which critical thinking is currently framed: Firstly, it needs to help students appreciate values that are higher than those of survival and mindless success; and, secondly, it needs to challenge the idea that the world is unknowable. As we have argued in our post about a Delphic approach to education. students cannot hope to critically engage with the world in which they live if they do not have a framework within which to make sense of it, and with which they can begin to intelligently consider what lies in store for us if we all continue keeping our heads down, performing our tiny parts in the division of labour as skillfully as possible.
Critical thinking regresses when it is framed uncritically as a mere tool. It must become a way of comprehending the folly of a world in which the only things that matter are tools for advancing an end that no one any longer has the faintest idea of.