critical thinking, emotion, higher education


Scholars have warned of a student-driven movement to turn campuses into comfort zones free from any material that may be seen as controversial (Lukianoff & Haidt, 2015). Despite this movement, the notion that professors ought to shelter their students as opposed to exposing them to challenging ideas is anti-intellectual and counterproductive to the development of critical thinking (American Association of University Professors, 2014). If the goal of education is indeed to foster critical thinking, it is crucial for professors to be willing to discuss controversial subjects (Schneider, 2013). Such openness in the classroom requires students to analyze the origin and value of their own thoughts as well as the origin and value of opposing perspectives (Osborne et al., 2009). Students are more open to and appreciative of opposing opinions once given the opportunity to engage in academic controversy (Gervey et al., 2009). While professors may face pressure to strip the classroom of all controversial material, those who model how to think critically as well as how to appropriately engage with those who espouse opposing views may be more effective in helping students develop the ability to think critically.

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