The Government Yoke
I agree with Richard Vedder when he says that the writing and critical thinking skills of seniors are only slightly more advanced than those of freshmen ("The Government Yoke," April). Why is this? From my 20 years of experience as a university professor—teaching at all levels, from freshmen to graduate students—I think the emphasis on teaching facts and particular skills needed for specific jobs is the problem.
This is why I doubt that computer-based teaching methods will ever replace good teachers who are able and willing to develop critical thinking skills in their students. It does take a lot of time and a lot of interaction. At the University of Arizona, each student was required to take an English proficiency examination before being admitted to upper division status (between sophomore and junior years). This consisted of writing an essay based on the students' experiences relating to a topic they could select from a short list. They were given two hours. The essays were judged by teams of faculty members from across the university.
There are ways to markedly improve and to evaluate critical thinking skills. What is lacking is making this a priority at today's universities.
Associate Professor, University of Arizona, retired
Letters are welcome and should be addressed to
reason 1747 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20009 fax: 202-315-3623 email@example.com
"Farm subsidies constitute 0.55 percent of the federal budget. Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid constitute a whopping 21 percent of the federal budget. You all should therefore be roughly 40 times madder at healthcare waste than farm subsidy waste."
—reason.com commenter "Duke," in response to "Farm Subsidies Must Die" (April)
"I think [Rand Paul] has a chance of winning the nomination if the GOP establishment becomes convinced that they can't win with an establishment candidate. The Democrats, it should be said, came to that conclusion when Obama was running the first time. They backed Obama over Hillary because he had come out against the Iraq War at the time, but Hillary supported it. When the Democrats needed someone who'd gone against the establishment to win, they backed a candidate that had gone against the Democrat establishment."
—reason.com commenter "Ken Shultz," in response to "Toward a Libertarian Foreign Policy" (April)
"Damn good review Nick. I haven't read the book recently enough to comment, but if the movie wasn't enough impetus to get me to dust it off, this review surely is."
—reason.com commenter "Scarcity," in response to "The Great Gatsby's Creative Destruction" (April)