I had been teaching for nearly 30 years when I discovered that I had failed to instruct my students in the basics of critical thinking.
My moment of awakening occurred in a conversation with one of the best students in that year’s graduating class. While her research presentation was strong, I suggested that it would have been even better had she started by articulating the questions she was investigating. She seemed intrigued, so I continued: whenever you read anything, I noted, you need to ask what questions the author was trying to answer. She was dumbstruck. No one, it seems, had ever told her this before. In that simple exchange, I discovered what I should have realized years earlier. Students don’t necessarily internalize basic critical thinking skills just by taking our courses. They need explicit instruction.