Friday 15 August 2014

Critical Thinking Nosedives

I see record numbers of young people are heading for university following yesterday's announcement of A-Level results, even though they showed an infinitesimal 'dip' in grades. Advanced Level is an exam with a 98 percent pass rate - a sad index of its intellectual rigour - and with top grades awarded to more than a quarter of entrants. Still - good luck to those who have chosen to go on to university, and let's hope they're doing the right thing for them.
What struck me about the breakdown of these A-Level results was that one subject was now being taken by a startling 46 percent fewer pupils year on year - a uniquely steep, probably terminal decline. And it was not, alas, Media Studies or even General Studies - it was Critical Thinking. I must admit I did not know such an A-Level subject existed - but as it does, it should surely be regarded by the universities as a serious core subject. If a university education teaches one thing, that thing should be Critical Thinking. No doubt, as taught to A-Level, it is a fuzzy option that universities are right not to take seriously - but there's no reason why it should be. Rather, it should be stiffened up and put right at the core of any education, especially at university level. Heaven knows we could do with a lot more critical thinking - not least among the products of our universities.

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