Critical thinking in career education the democratic importance of foundational rationality

Ball State University ABSTRACT This article illustrates how the generic employability skills approach to critical thinking suffers from serious conceptual and epistemological difficulties that impact deleteriously on both its practical effectiveness and democratic appropriateness.

Critical thinking in career education the democratic importance of foundational rationality

Ball State University ABSTRACT This article illustrates how the generic employability skills approach to critical thinking suffers from serious conceptual and epistemological difficulties that impact deleteriously on both its practical effectiveness and democratic appropriateness.

Unlike technical skills, employability skills, in this case cognitive capacities such as critical thinking and problem solving, are traditionally presented as not job specific, and are intended to remain broadly applicable across a variety of occupations and professions.

The emphasis that career education places on technical rationality in critical thinking violates principles of democratic learning by disregarding the historical context of vocational experience.

This article proposes that a more effective, politically empowering, and epistemically coherent approach to critical thinking promotes student understanding of the various forces shaping contemporary vocational experience.

Finally, this article proposes a revised critical thinking construct based on foundational rationality to remedy these problems, and offers examples of concrete classroom strategies, such as praxis, problem-posing education and collaborative learning, that protect democratic learning in career education programs.

The majority of these programs advocate teaching students transferable, or generic, critical thinking and problem solving "skills" that are intended to address the occupational instability marking current labor market conditions Kerka, In the present labor market, job security is largely an anachronism, and the promise of transferable employability skills entails obvious practical benefits.

Unfortunately, there are significant pedagogical problems with the construct of critical thinking commonly found within many career education programs. In this article, we identify the pedagogical and democratic shortcomings of present critical thinking practices within career education.

We propose an alternative critical thinking construct for career education based on foundational rationality. Critical thinking that respects foundational rationality encourages students to explore the historical context of contemporary vocational experience, and promotes the fundamental principles of democratic learning.

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We begin the article by illustrating how the generic employability skill approach to critical thinking suffers from serious conceptual and epistemological difficulties that impact deleteriously on both its practical effectiveness and democratic appropriateness.

In the final section of the article, we propose a revised critical thinking construct based on foundational rationality to remedy these problems, and offer examples of concrete classroom strategies that protect democratic learning in career education programs.

Conceptual Problems with Critical Thinking in Career Education Secondary level career education, based largely on human capital assumptions, generally categorizes critical thinking and problem solving as transferable employability skills British Columbia Ministry of Education, Skills and Training, ; Conference Board of Canada, ; Johns Hopkins University, ; New Jersey Department of Education, The idea of critical thinking and problem solving as transferable employability skills understandably appeals to many career education stakeholders.

Critical thinking in career education the democratic importance of foundational rationality

However, as we shall argue below, the belief that critical thinking is a transferable, or generic, employability skill confronts insurmountable conceptual and epistemological difficulties.

Critical thinking in career education is typically characterized as a set of heuristics, or guiding principles, intended to provide workers with an effective problem solving strategy regardless of occupational context.

The New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards for Career Education and Consumer, Family, and Life Skills New Jersey Department of Education,for example, proposes a four step heuristic model to equip students with problem solving skills for application in various occupational and life circumstances: British Columbia's secondary level Business Education British Columbia Ministry of Education, Skills and Training, offers a similar, if somewhat more sophisticated, heuristic strategy referred to as the designing model: Although advocates of this approach confidently extol the virtues of their particular model, heuristic strategies suffer serious epistemological shortcomings.

The epistemic limitations of critical thinking and problem solving heuristics are illustrated simply by considering different occupational contexts where these approaches might be applied. If an automobile refuses to start without any obvious indication why, the typical heuristic approach suggests identifying the problem.

However, for an individual lacking significant knowledge about automobiles - including fuel, ignition, and electrical systems - pinpointing the specific cause of the mechanical failure is apt to prove extremely difficult. Even a youthful automotive technician trained in modern electronic ignition and fuel injection systems might be unable to isolate the problem in an older car equipped with a carburetor, points, and a distributor.

Our general point here is simply that while heuristic strategies for critical thinking and problem solving offer procedural guidelines, they are practically worthless in the absence of sufficient background knowledge related to the specific applied context.

This characteristic of heuristic approaches to critical thinking and problem solving raises serious questions regarding their actual transferability between occupational contexts. Our current infatuation with heuristic strategies in career education is at least partially predicated on Dewey's writings that originally proposed a series of stages and principles to guide student reflection: However, Dewey also fully understood that procedural knowledge alone was insufficient to produce reflective thinkers, and advocated fostering dispositions in students such as open-mindedness, intellectual sincerity and responsibility, wholehearted interest, and a critical spirit of inquiry.

Unfortunately, the heuristic strategies adopted by many career education programs fail to emphasize the fundamental role character qualities play in effective critical thinking and problem solving.

Obviously, career education students will not think critically unless they acquire the necessary dispositions to do so.

When critical thinking and problem solving are categorized as transferable employability skills, another potential pedagogical problem rears its ugly head. The concept of a "skill" traditionally denotes some type of physical or technical expertise that is mastered through repeated practice of the capacity in question Barrow, Skilled surgeons spend many hours operating on cadavers to sharpen their surgical expertise and biological knowledge.

Skilled airline pilots require considerable in-flight or simulator time to master aircraft controls and navigational guidance systems. This type of procedural or technical knowledge is categorically distinct, however, from the propositional knowledge required for critical thinking and problem solving.

Critical thinking seeks determinations of truth, evaluates relevant evidence, and justifies arguments, all epistemic objectives that procedural knowledge and practice alone simply cannot achieve.

Cognitive capacities such as critical thinking and problem solving depend on propositional knowledge and, contrary to the career education approach, they do not qualify as transferable skills mastered through generic practice. When teachers adopt the idea that critical thinking and problem solving are mastered through abstract practice, they are unintentionally misleading their students.

The most sophisticated constructs of critical thinking typically emphasize two essential elements Siegel, First, thinking critically about any issue or problem requires considerable background knowledge about the subject under investigation, a point we have emphasized and illustrated above.Hyslop-MargisonEJArmstrongJ Critical thinking in career education: The democratic importance of foundational rationality Journal of Career and Technical Education 39 49 Google Scholar InlowFHChovanW Another search for the effects of teaching thinking and problem solving skills on college students’ performance Journal of Instructional.

Finally, this article proposes a revised critical thinking construct based on foundational rationality to remedy these problems, and offers examples of concrete classroom strategies, such as praxis, problem-posing education and collaborative learning, that protect .

Critical thinking in career education the democratic importance of foundational rationality

Rondamb talks about the importance of critical thinking skills in our students in this article from Education Articles. The Importance of Teaching Critical Thinking.

by Lee Watanabe-Crockett | Jul 24, Critical thinking and school music education: Literature review, research findings, and perspectives. The Paulian Framework for critical thinking has been developed and discussed through decades of scholarship by the world's foremost experts on substantive, explicit, ethical rationality.

Our guides encapsulate this framework and many of its applications. The emphasis that career education places on technical rationality in critical thinking violates principles of democratic learning by disregarding the historical context of vocational experience.

Importance of critical thinking. Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum () defines critical thinking as "examining, questioning, In order to help their students to develop critical-thinking skills and to take critical action, teachers need to.

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