How important are critical thinking skills?

I’m writing a story for the Mount Mercy Times about a book that the faculty discussed at a workshop last week. The book,  “Academically Adrift, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, revealed that the authors had conducted a study which showed that 55 percent of college graduates lack the critical thinking skills necessary to be successful in the business world.

Dr. Chad Loes, criminal justice professor at Mount Mercy University, held a workshop for faculty to discuss the book. He said the point he wanted to make was that though the findings were a bit alarming, they should be taken at face value. Which brings up a point that I didn’t get to put in my article, but still feel the need to explore.

Are we getting dumber?

It’s a loaded question, I know. With all the technology and easy access to information, we should be getting smarter, right? But according to an article  by Nicholas Carr in theatlantic.com, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” as the tittle suggests, the way we live is changing the way we think.

The author said that convenience is important to many people these days and that he hasn’t picked up a book in years, a pastime he once loved.

Kids text while sitting next to each, 4 out of 5 drivers have a cell phone stuck to the side of their heads, and Facebook has become a social outlet for millions.

Where are the days when neighbors talked over the fence? When kids talked to their parents while sitting down to a meal that didn’t come from take-out or from a box? When did we stop relating to each other? No wonder young adults don’t know how to get along with their co-workers. They probably have never learned how.

Are we doomed to become a society where people relate to each other only in the form of electronic delivery?

Yes, I am being a bit extreme, but after reading the book and talking with Dr. Loes, as well as many others who share the same views, it’s easy to see that society is headed in a direction different than anyone ever intended. Maybe we need to take a serious look at the problem we’re facing and figure out if this is really what we want for our future generations. And f it’s not, we need to come up with a workable solution or solutions to turn it around.

While technology can be a very good thing, it can also deter skills that we are trying to teach our children, skills that they’ll need to lead a successful life. Maybe the answer lies within the control of the parents, to balance the lives of their children with some technology time, to spending time outside. After all, it does start in the home. And if we don’t stress the importance to the young parents today, it may be too late to do anything about it.

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