So, Stanford University has instituted a new requirement that begins with this year's freshman class: Thinking Matters. A student can meet the requirement by choosing from among some 35 courses that allow freshmen to cultivate "the critical and analytical skills required for rigorous university-level work."
What's fascinating (to me, at least) about the requirement is what I as an independent school person infer from the following description from Stanford University News in Aug 2012:
Thinking Matters is one of the cornerstones of the university's new approach to undergraduate education. That new approach stresses the development of intellectual growth through critical thinking rather than accumulation of knowledge through course content.
What do I infer? That "course content" = the usual high school approach to "thinking," which is different from what Stanford considers "thinking."
That's not a hollow statement. Clearly, Stanford (and others, one should assume) is identifying the weakness(es) inherent in a high school system that focuses on coverage of content at the expense of critical thinking skills. Happily, we in independent schools are now examining (or, at least, we ought to be...) how we incorporate what Pat Bassett calls the 5Cs +1 in our overall programs, but we still struggle with coverage of content. And we probably should. It's an issue of balance.
Having said that, though, how are we considering the balance between standardized assessments (SAT, AP, ACT, etc.) and our attention to the 5Cs + 1?
In other words, is there meaning for us within the Stanford requirement?