In this Work Shift by Harold, Emotional Intelligence, imagination and creativity are highly valued by society.
This should have been a wake-up call to our training and education institutions in 2003. Notice that even the requirement for analytic reasoning is declining in the workplace. As the authors note:
In today’s world, companies and workers face the challenge of ascending the hierarchy of human talents. Workers are increasingly using those traits that make us truly human. Some jobs require imagination and creativity, including the ability to design, innovate and entertain. Other jobs rely on such social skills as conflict resolution, cooperation and even humor. Work is more likely to put a premium on the ability to inspire and motivate, a capacity social scientists call emotional intelligence.
Analytic reasoning, and critical thinking skills, on the other hand have been perceived differently. Here on wikipedia:
Research suggests a widespread skepticism about universities’ effectiveness in fostering critical thinking. For example, in a three year study of 68 public and private colleges in California,[which?] though the overwhelming majority (89%) claimed critical thinking to be a primary objective of their instruction, only a small minority (19%) could give a clear explanation of what critical thinking is. Furthermore, although the overwhelming majority (78%) claimed that their students lacked appropriate intellectual standards (to use in assessing their thinking), and 73% considered that students learning to assess their own work was of primary importance, only a very small minority (8%) could enumerate any intellectual criteria or standards they required of students or could give an intelligible explanation of what those criteria and standards were.
This study mirrors a meta-analysis of the literature on teaching effectiveness in higher education. According to the study, critical reports by authorities on higher education, political leaders and business people have claimed that higher education is failing to respond to the needs of students, and that many of our graduates’ knowledge and skills do not meet society’s requirements for well-educated citizens. Thus the meta-analysis focused on the question: How valid are these claims? Researchers concluded:
- “Faculty aspire to develop students’ thinking skills, but research consistently shows that in practice we tend to aim at facts and concepts in the disciplines, at the lowest cognitive levels, rather than development of intellect or values.”
- “Faculty agree almost universally that the development of students’ higher-order intellectual or cognitive abilities is the most important educational task of colleges and universities.”
- “These abilities underpin our students’ perceptions of the world and the consequent decisions they make.”
- “Specifically, critical thinking – the capacity to evaluate skillfully and fairly the quality of evidence and detect error, hypocrisy, manipulation, dissembling, and bias – is central to both personal success and national needs.”
- A 1972 study of 40,000 faculty members by the American Council on Education found that 97 percent of the respondents indicated the most important goal of undergraduate education is to foster students’ ability to think critically.
- Process-oriented instructional orientations “have long been more successful than conventional instruction in fostering effective movement from concrete to formal reasoning. Such programs emphasize students’ active involvement in learning and cooperative work with other students and de-emphasize lectures…”
- “Numerous studies of college classrooms reveal that, rather than actively involving our students in learning, we lecture, even though lectures are not nearly as effective as other means for developing cognitive skills.”
- “In addition, students may be attending to lectures only about one-half of their time in class, and retention from lectures is low.”
- “Studies suggest our methods often fail to dislodge students’ misconceptions and ensure learning of complex, abstract concepts. Capacity for problem solving is limited by our use of inappropriately simple practice exercises.”
- “Classroom tests often set the standard for students’ learning. As with instruction, however, we tend to emphasize recall of memorized factual information rather than intellectual challenge.”
- “Taken together with our preference for lecturing, our tests may be reinforcing our students’ commonly fact-oriented memory learning, of limited value to either them or society.”
So, would critical thinking still be important in learning in an institution? I would argue that it is still relevant, and should be reinforced throughout the curriculum in Higher Education. This is an important foundation skill for any profession, especially that we should be focusing on values which are important to individuals, business and society. This would ensure graduates have a sound understanding of the complexity nature of business and relationships, and challenge their abilities to adapt to new working environment through sensemaking. Moreover, an understanding of emotional intelligence, and the application imagination and creativity via learning projects and problems-based learning would prepare students in facing challenges and tackling new problems and relations when they join the workforce.
What do you think our society would value most?