The case for critical thinking

Osaka

The Sept. 18 editorial “Slow transparency of universities” states that Japanese universities should teach students “how to evaluate information and make difficult, reasoned decisions.”

However, when it comes to nonvocational, nontechnical academic programs — what we call humanities in the West — I don’t think Japanese university administrators would agree. These administrators, if they were given a truth serum, might say that Japanese universities should appear to be teaching a whole lot of things while actually not teaching much of anything.

This is a culture of deception. Certainly, Japanese students would have no idea about this. Last year I asked some of my students at a prestigious Japanese university how many books they had read during the semester for their classes. Their answer: zero.

So much for the evaluation of information. Critical thinking skills are discouraged at Japanese universities. However, if The Japan Times believes that critical thinking should be taught at Japanese universities, it should make the case. The comfortable old men who decide these things may even pretend to listen.

mb_

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

name withheld by request