It is a place for students to expand their previously held beliefs and opinions, towards ideas and concepts that may be far beyond anything they have considered before.
This is known and conceptualized as critical thinking.
Tim Blackmore is a professor at Western University within the Faculty of Information and Media Studies and summarizes critical thinking to be, “a way of figuring out what makes sense in the world and how it makes sense, by asking questions and having open discussions with those around you.”
In November, a Laurier TA found herself in hot water with her superiors when she played a video of Jordan Peterson to a first year communications class. The video showcased University of Toronto Professor, Jordan Peterson, and his refusal to use alternative pronouns.
This conflict from Laurier ignited a discussion around critical thinking and its importance to education, especially for post-secondary students.
For Blackmore, critical thinking is important to all levels of education, “but it is especially important in post-secondary because the students are adults now. There has been an emphasis and expectation put on post-secondary institutions to take these students and form them into ‘good citizens’, where they can think for themselves and ask the right questions.”
Diana Colley is a fourth year student at Western University studying Media, Information, and Technoculture, a program heavily structured around critical thinking. She believes when students are encouraged to think critically, “it fosters passion and self-expression. Even when you express an idea in the classroom and it gets shutdown, it helps you realize the passion you have in regards to that thought and it encourages you to think even deeper about why you feel the way that you do.”
When critical thinking gets removed from post-secondary education, Blackmore says, “education becomes indoctrination. Without critical thinking, you’re trying to impress upon people exactly what you want them to know, learn, and come away with. And that’s like building your own robot.”