The Wall Street Journal recently published a report stating that college students lacked critical thinking skills. The study examined results of the College Learning Assessment Plus critical thinking test, which is given to freshman and senior students annually. When taking the assessment, students answer questions that are related to skills one must use inside and outside of the classroom. They are asked to use articles, data, and blog posts to answer questions.
The study found that at half of the assessed schools, a significant number of seniors scored at basic levels or less. These students demonstrate the ability to read documents and communicate meaning, but they are unable to form cohesive arguments or interpret the material. According to Newsweek, even high-profile universities did not fare well. At California State University, more than one-third of seniors scored at below basic levels.
Many universities are not effectively training students to question the information they receive. While the students can comprehend data and facts, they find it difficult to engage in deeper analysis. A 2016 study showed that two-thirds of college graduates believe their schools did not teach them how to formulate and ask questions of their own.
The fact that students are leaving college without knowing how to think for themselves is alarming – more so when you consider the fact that leftists run the majority of U.S. universities. Professors are feeding our young people leftist ideas without teaching them the skills necessary to analyze their validity.
These professors are not only doing a great disservice to their students; they are creating a potentially dangerous situation. If people are not able to think critically, they will not know how to engage in healthy debate about the issues that affect Americans. As a result, many young people are refusing to have an honest dialogue about their views. Rather than having a conversation with people whose beliefs contradict their own, they hide in safe spaces or use violence to avoid hearing arguments which with they disagree.
This neglect to teach critical thinking leads to a host of problems. We will have more young people who are willing to use violent force to silence the voices of those with whom they disagree. We have seen this at UC Berkeley and the recent Free Speech Rally in Portland, Oregon. Additionally, people who are unable to analyze arguments effectively are easier to manipulate – the more conspiracy-minded among us might believe that this is the reason leftist universities are not teaching critical thinking skills. Having a significant number of younger people who are more likely to accept leftist ideology without questioning could cause great harm to the conservative movement.
If our universities will not teach our students how to think for themselves, it is incumbent upon us to train them ourselves. Parents should start teaching their children how to question information when they are younger. We must challenge them to grow in their ability to analyze the messages they are receiving. Only then can our youth be prepared to distinguish fact from fiction before going to college.