Indeed, in many ways, critical thinking has become synonymous with higher education.
Yet we have not found evidence that colleges or universities teach critical-thinking skills with any success.
John Mc Peck, professor of education at the University of Western Ontario; Daniel T.
Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia; and, to a certain degree, Moore himself have defended the specifists' position.
If there is one thing that we know for sure, it is that thinking skills, general or otherwise, can’t be learned if they’re not taught in as overt a manner as other content in college courses.
Finally, we need to adjust the metaphor of “transfer” that drives how we view thinking skills in general and critical-thinking skills in particular.
A key question in the debate, therefore, is whether thinking skills can exist independently from discipline-specific content in a meaningful way such that transfer is possible.
Writing on this, Tim John Moore, a senior lecturer at the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, called this “the generalizabilty debate.” On one side are the generalists, who believe “critical thinking can be distilled down to a finite set of constitutive skills, ones that can be learned in a systematic way and have applicability across all academic disciplines.” Some notable proponents of this position are Robert Ennis, emeritus professor of philosophy of education at the University of Illinois; Peter Facione, former provost at Loyola University of Chicago; and Richard Paul, director of research and professional development at the Center for Critical Thinking.
Again, given the rising cost of education and the increasing accessibility of information, instructors and professors must move beyond being deliverers of content to remain relevant.
Yet, what to do if the research is telling us that teaching GTS is extremely difficult, if not impossible?