A student submitted a paper with a very disturbing opening line, "I am having major trouble getting started on this assignment because I have no interest in learning about anything."
I asked him to come to my office so we could talk this over.
"If you're not here to learn, then why in the world did you pay the required tuition and even bother to come to class?"
"Good question and easy answer. I was told that I could get a two-year diploma with an overall 'C' average. I'll tell you what. I will come to class, just quietly sit there and not bother anybody, and you can give me the grade. After that, I'll transfer over to the university, get my degree and get a job."
Since it seemed pretty obvious to me that trying to rationalize with someone who had stated the reality of the system would be a waste of time, I tried another tactic.
"Before you finish your schooling, you'll most likely go to the gym when there will be a large number of companies looking for soon-to-graduate students who might be candidates for top-level job opportunities. Not one of these employers will stand up and holler, 'I want to interview all the 'C' students!' Listen carefully. The job market is not only competitive, it is demanding. The choice will be limited to those who are good students who can work with others and can think critically. The most difficult choice is yours. Think about it."
Critical thinking. My loose definition is to cerebrate, cogitate, contemplate and just plain think about all the information that overwhelms us on a daily basis. We are surrounded with ideas, thoughts, situations, speeches and social media that fly us from all directions and from everyone that has an opinion on the world, the past, present and future. Some ideas are well-founded while others are questionable. Folks, there are great risks in finding the truth, accepting the truth and then expressing the truth because of the possibility of animosity between friends, rejection and even facing violence.
Critical thinking is a conscious mental process used to solve a problem, make a decision or attempt to understand something apart from bias, emotion or prejudice. There have been many times in my life that I would rather have remained confident in my assumptions than having discovered I was mistaken and just plain wrong. The truth is life changing!
In Mark 1:15, Jesus speaks to those who will listen: "Repent." The Greek word is metanoia and is translated, "Change your way of thinking. Be transformed. Hate sin and love God. Turn around. Choose life."
You must choose now as tomorrow may never come.
Perhaps the student was unwilling to learn because to find the truth is to create tension: to choose or not to choose, accept or reject, to change or to remain.
God has given us absolute freedom of choice. God has given us an extraordinary gift! Wow!