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Unpacking the Critical Thinking Conundrum

When I was an undergraduate, I distinctly remember my political science professor informing the class, “If you take one thing away from your education, learn how to think critically by the time you leave here.” At that point in my life, his sage wisdom went in one ear and out the other — much like the admonitions to not start the paper the night before and to ensure my thesis statement was “argumentative.” The phrase “critical thinking” continued to appear in various essay assignments, its persistence indicating an implicit assumption that its meaning was self-explanatory. To be perfectly honest, I had not the slightest idea of what it meant at the time and I’m not sure many of my peers did either. As I remember, I was well into my master’s program before the light bulb went off.

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