Students at a Catholic college in New York City are being taught that they are being judged for their religion online, but the idea that such a system exists in a democracy is anachronistic, a new study finds.
A new study by University of California-Berkeley researchers finds that the concept of “critical thinking” and its “critical role in Christian education” has been embedded in American public life for decades.
“Critical thinking” is the practice of analyzing and analyzing the data presented to a student, and the study suggests that the practice has become more pervasive in the education system than students realize, according to a statement from the study’s lead author, Mark Mathers.
The study is the first to look at how “critical learning” has changed in the public sphere, and finds that many people in America do not understand how this system works.
The paper, “Critical Thinking and the Public Sphere: The Role of Critical Thinking in Public Education,” found that, for all but one of the subjects tested, students were not given an explanation of how the content was presented.
The results also revealed that “critical” teachers did not typically use language that is neutral or neutralizing to describe their students’ experiences, and they did not always use appropriate metaphors to describe students’ thoughts.
“Our findings suggest that critical thinking is not a subject-specific phenomenon but an entrenched feature of the American public sphere,” the study states.
In addition to the new findings, the study found that the teaching of critical thinking has become a way for teachers to “encourage students to think critically.”
The authors write that they believe that “the public discourse surrounding critical thinking, particularly within religious institutions, is being influenced by students who, in turn, have been trained to accept critical thinking as an appropriate means to learn.”
The researchers also found that critical-thinking teachers have a vested interest in the students’ well-being.
They write that teachers have “an increased ability to motivate students to be critical of themselves and others in their community, to learn from other students, and to engage in constructive discussions.”
Students were not told what “critical thought” is in the context of the study, but they were asked to explain how they thought a certain student’s actions were “critical.”
The paper says that this type of feedback “is consistent with previous research on critical thinking and its role in education.”
Mathers says the study also found evidence of an important difference in how the public is perceived by students.
“The public is not taught to see critical thinking in terms of a positive or negative attitude toward it, but instead as an ‘I told you so’ mentality,” he said.
“We believe that our findings support our hypothesis that critical thought is a necessary part of the curriculum, and that critical learning should be taught in all public schools and colleges.”
The study will be presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting in May.