Some courses that are supposed to teach critical thinking amount to nothing more than severe criticism by professors of ideas they dislike. Students don’t learn how to think. Instead of learning to exercise careful judgment, they learn to mimic their professors’ opinions.
Second, critical thinking ought to mean thinking that reflects the Western rationalistic tradition. Unfortunately, that tradition is incommensurable with other prevalent academic orthodoxies, such as social constructivism, multiculturalism, and postmodernism. The philosopher John Searle has asserted that critical thinking is founded on epistemological assumptions that enable us to build a framework for determining whether a conclusion is legitimate or not. Those assumptions are basic and easy to understand, for example, that “reality exists independently of our representations of it” and that “knowledge is objective.”
17 March 2011