Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Critical Thinking Key to Business and Social Innovation

Reading and thinking critically are paramount skills for Americans to have if we are to take (keep) the initiative in business and technology innovation. If we are merely training ourselves, and others, to follow instructions without questioning the status quo or without bringing new ideas to the table, what sort of business culture are we creating?

Of course, numerous jobs require basic training, technical skill, and concentration. But there is also the need for highly evolved communication and collaboration skills to develop dynamic business and social solutions. Being aware of and open to diverse perspectives, in addition to our own informed opinions, will create the flexibility necessary to succeed in public and business discourse.

This article, by Brent Staples, from the July 13, 2010, issue of The New York Times illustrates the challenge educators experience when teaching critical thinking -- some students choose to take short cuts, which means, if not corrected or used as "teachable moments," that they will likely take short cuts on their jobs and in life. Students who are able to investigate a topic or issue, read source material, develop their own questions and opinions, and present them in an effective report or essay will succeed on many levels. Teaching students the ethical use of source material, its effective integration, and giving them the tools for critical thinking, these skills are the basis of a diverse, open-minded, innovative workforce that is engaged in free, ethical, and progressive enterprise. More than ever, our campuses are fully engaged in preparing students to be active, skilled contributors to their fields. In that light, educators – full-time and adjunct – should be fully supported in all aspects of the term supported. Our – and the students’ – future depends on their success in acquiring these crucial analytical skills.