Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

The Pressure of Group Thought

Peter Wood

NAS president Peter Wood questions the legitimacy of always seeking academic consensus.

How Higher Ed Fails Students, Especially Leftist Ones

George Leef

At many institutions, professors shortchange students by affirming their existing beliefs, rather than challenging them on the path of "collision with error."

Unpersuasive book argues that higher education should have a leftist bias

George Leef

"It reminds me of Don Quixote. Lazere wants his friends to see how gloriously he jousts with and punctures all those horrible right-wingers. But Cervantes’s novel is entertaining; the pages of this book are pointless and screechy."

Education by Metaphor

Tessa Carter

Professor Robert Frost on poetry and education.

The Fall 2013 Issue of Academic Questions Is Out

Tessa Carter

The fall 2013 issue of AQ features "critical thoughts in critical times."

What Were They Thinking?

Peter Wood

The platform committee of the Texas Republican Party backs away from its support of "critical thinking."

Two Kinds of Critical Thinking

AILACT

A reply by the board of a scholarly organization to Peter Wood’s Comments on “Critical Thinking.”

Wall-Chart Wisdom

Peter Wood

Peter Wood praises vintage illustrated botany and zoology wall charts as reflecting an antidote for postmodern epistemological malaise.

Some Critical Thoughts

Peter Wood

Peter Wood argues that “critical thinking” in the humanities has come to mean uncritical orthodoxy.

Some Critical Thinking for 2012

Steve Balch

What can higher education do to help equip Americans for informed citizenship?

Can You Drop It on Your Foot?

John Maguire

A college writing professor urges students to avoid "abstractitis" and use concrete nouns.

Moralism and Sustainability

William H. Young

Universities should prepare students to draw responsible rather than moralistic conclusions. Sustainability ideology, however, encourages people to make decisions based on personal or collective moral intuition, not critical thought.

Some College Students Really Do Learn Critical Thinking

George Leef

In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call,  Professor David Clemens discusses the general failure to teach college students critical thinking — despite the fact that many schools trumpet that as one of their goals — and then explains how he gets his students to learn it. He gives them a capstone assignment that requires them to write a lengthy essay on the question whether Holocaust deniers should be included in the curriculum. That compels the students to analyze evidence and arguments as most have never had to do before.

The Cultural Contradictions of Sustainability

William H. Young

The sustainability movement aims to prevent expansion and propagate utopianism. Yet its advocates promote the spread of their ideas and seek "real change" in the real world. Higher education should train students to perceive the contradictions of ideologies such as capitalism and sustainability.

Mission: Preparation

Peter Cohee

Activism-as-learning begins before college, through the influence on schools of groups such as Facing History and the Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation. What are we preparing students for?

Intellectual Diversity or Nonsense?

Ashley Thorne

"Our classroom has become an arena for the free exchange of ideas in which everyone's opinion is welcomed and respected." But should everyone's opinion be welcomed and respected? Is that what intellectual diversity means?

Is There Ever Any "Critical Thinking" About Social Justice?

George Leef

In this article, Ashley Thorne discusses the continuing vitality of the "social justice" crusade on many American campuses. I'd be willing to bet my last dollar that in these "social justice" programs, students are never led to question whether the term actually has any meaning. Are students ever called upon to read, for example, any part of Hayek's fabulous book The Mirage of Social Justice in which he argues that the term is not only meaningless, but leads to dangerous policy ideas? I doubt it. Rather, "social justice" is treated as an unquestionable if vague ideal.

Paglia's Scimitar

Peter Wood

The feminist-lesbian-leftist calls higher education out as a "rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms."

What's Critical about Critical Globalization Studies?

Peter Wood

This year a UC Santa Barbara professor sent an email to his class, comparing Israeli actions to those of the Nazis. But where did this professor's academic field, "critical globalization studies" actually come from, and should it exist in the university in the first place?

Time to graduate?

Carol Iannone

A prominent literary critic weighs evidence that artistic nihilism has become a bore.

Critical Thoughtlessness

Peter Wood

Stephen Zelnick refutes the cult of "critical thinking" now used as a substitute for a real curriculum.

A Remembrance - 9/11:

Peter Wood

Let us remember 9/11 and rouse from academic detachment from the real world.