Critical thinking requires academic assertiveness
|Published in||Issue 8 Summer 2007 Some ways forward|
|Date Published||Summer 2007|
By Dr Jenny Moon
It floated into my consciousness as I was writing about critical thinking. Thoughts come and thoughts go, but not this one. I felt that there was an important issue here that we might be missing in our other concerns about students learning and not-learning. Think about the following students:
- Ellie does not understand the instructions for the dissertation project that she has to do. Her tutor is a professor with a difficult manner and she feels very intimidated so decides to manage on her own.
- Juan has written a poor set of reports for his Mechanical Engineering lab work. His tutor has told him that in effect he has failed, though there is a chance for resubmission. He takes the notion of failure badly and feels he himself has failed, not the work. Somehow he has to get himself to a state in which he can redo it.
- Magrit has, for a seminar task, to prepare a critique of a paper of a well known theorist in her discipline, who happens to be one of her tutors. She feels uneasy about the man himself and is horrified that she could be asked to criticise his paper. She says ‘who am I to critique his work when I am only a student’.
- Joanne is told to be more independent in her studies but has no real understanding of what is required.
- Jon is in a seminar. He has been asked to do a short presentation on the effects of Labour party policy on school education in the last seven years. He has argued a negative case, but in the course of the seminar, he realises that he now disagrees with much that he originally wrote. Has he the courage to say that he has changed his mind?