An SMU class on the Kennedy assassination purports to teach students to read and think critically.
The one-semester course called “On the Trail of the Assassin(s)” considers the assassination as a work of critical reading, teaching wide-eyed college youths in the English department that there is no absolute truth, but a whole lot of ways to navigate through contradiction.
Actually, there is an absolute truth about the assassination, though it may not be provable beyond a shadow of a doubt. I worry about a class that presents Oliver Stone’s wacky, fact-inventing conspiracy theories as worthy of consideration, even if students also read non-fiction about the event. Perhaps students learn to distinguish between fantasy and reality, but I doubt it: Half end up as conspiracy buffs.
Via Don Burton, who writes:
I think I’ve finally figured out what “critical thinking” means when used by academics: giving all ideas and notions equal weight, without reaching a conclusion on anything. That’s why academics say that people who use their reasoning ability to reach sound conclusions or who reject leftist claptrap are not engaged in “critical thinking.”
Now, let’s not be cynical.