Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Liberal Arts Education and Critical Thinking

Last weekend I was in Chicago for an ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) workshop related to my current Postdoc post. A daylong multiplicity of conversations about what a Liberal Arts education and Liberal Arts institutions are and how we, as Postdoc Fellows recently graduating from R1 universities are making the transition. Quite an engaging opportunity for concentrated thought and exchange about what we do, might do, and why!

Still under the influence of OOOIII, I was struck by the one unanimous element of the day: Critical Thinking is a primary (and unexamined) goal. At OOOIII, numerous people were raising fundamental questions about the era of "Critical Thinking"--in relation to the Kantian knot as well as concern over this particular and singular model of how we think about thought as well as change. All of this on the heels of a good and brilliant friend's reader remarks on one of my essays that really pushed me to try articulating what ideological criticism really offers in the way of change--not a binary of action versus thought, but a question about our belief in critical thinking and critique: When do we meet the quantitative shift to the qualitative? When will there be just the right amount of critique to change things?

I don't have my answers. I feel like I'm just opening this area of thought, and it's like riding inside of a Percy Shelley poem: one second your in the cosmos observing the music of the spheres, then you're looking at nanocogs, or maybe you are a nanocog.

Disorientation like standing underneath Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate and looking up while moving slowly in a circle.

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