An Apologia for Thinking Critically and Creatively
Before I take leave upon my 17 years as a facilitator of learning, one of my favorite courses that I loved to offer as a challenge to the human mind, Thinking Critically and Creatively, is being phased out of the curriculum by the summer of 2018. Before this fundamentally seminal course for any other course or program becomes merely a whimper in the halls of academia, there is a chorus line of students singing its praises:
“Hello Roger, I loved this chapter! I have heard of most of these thinkers and some of their views. It is great that now I am able to connect thoughts to people. I also have some comments. First, I want to thank Socrates for asking us to question and examine our thoughts and thought processes. I think Hobbes had it right when he said that authority is necessary because we cannot rely on people to always follow the Golden Rule. The brief explanation of Kant’s categorical imperative helped me better understand the reason why we should universalize our decisions. Finally, I wanted to share that, on your recommendation, I read Siddhartha, what a powerful story. One part that has really stuck with me was the following phrase: “we are what we think”. I was pleased to see that you included that in our additional information. There is a lot of good, powerful information in that list.”
“Honestly, before taking this class, I didn’t see how it would be beneficial in any way. I was wrong. I really enjoyed taking it, and it has really taught me a lot. I’ve learned to become not a better thinker, but a better critical thinker and to question everything. It has opened my eyes, mind, and heart to other points of view and different ways of thinking. I can truly see you enjoy your work, and I appreciate how well you have laid out the work to be done. You basically took most of the stress out of returning to school, and taking online courses. I really wish every teacher was as well organized. Returning to school as an adult is difficult, but this time around I am ready to take every challenge “head on”. My resolve only gets stronger each and every day. Thank you, and best wishes going forward.”
“I can honestly say I am a much happier and more fulfilled person for taking this course and for seeking truth and changing my uncritical thinking. I know myself well, and I am comfortable in my own skin now.”
“I do believe like the song says- “If you want to make a change you gotta look in the mirror and start with yourself.” I do enjoy learning the process of thinking and how it expresses itself in our actions thus defining our character. One idea I’m also learning on the side, which is therapeutic for me, is why we think our specific thoughts and how to break free from past experiences that may be detrimental in being able to move forward. Many of our thoughts do lie to us, one does not have to believe everything one thinks. For me it’s like having a brand new start and new eyes again. I just love and embrace new positive aspects. This course is enlightening, educational, and provides many tools that I will take with me for the rest of my life!”
“Honestly, this is the first class that has really challenged me to question not only the world and its teachings, but MYSELF. I am pushing myself to the fullest because I genuinely want to soak up the teachings of this class as I do believe there are many areas of my personal and professional life that could be better suited with a more open mindset. I admit there have been assignments that have evoked an emotional review of myself. I am hoping that by the end of the semester, I will be able to initially view this as a critical review, instead of initially an emotional one.”
“I just wanted to take a moment and commend you on teaching what I have found to be one of the most important and beneficial classes available at NWTC. While I have only just begun my student career, I was pleasantly surprised to find such a valuable course (not only academically, but from a pure life experience). Despite the fact that I feel I’ve learned a portion of the lessons in this class simply from living a rather rough life, I think that this will help many youngsters get ahead of the curve and not become victim to the pitfalls of learning these lessons via experience. Kudos on a great course.”
“I plan on using my improved critical thinking skills set to help me communicate more effectively with a kinder heart and more positive attitude. I have taken a step back and realized I’m great at communicating and thinking critically, but I have a long way to go. I plan on being an active learner and will continue to keep an open mind as I parent. I will go through life slipping up a bit now and then. Still, I plan on taking these skills and improving my relationships and my whole self as best as I am able. Thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart!”
Finally, an Apologia from two former philosophers——no not former students of mine!
“Philosophy (thinking critically and creatively)…molds and constructs the soul, guides our conduct, shows us what we should do and what we should leave undone; it sits at the helm and directs our course as we waver amid uncertainties. Without it, no one can live fearlessly or in peace of mind.” Seneca – 4 B.C.E. – 65 C.E.
“The seeds of virtue are inborn in our dispositions and, if they are allowed to ripen, nature’s own hand would lead us on to happiness of life…but when we leave the nursery to be with parents and later on are handed over to teachers, we become imbued with deceptions so varied that truth gives way to unreality and the voice of nature to ready-made opinions.” Cicero – 106 – 43 B.C.E.