Education for Critical Thinking
ARMY COMBINED ARMS CENTER FORT LEAVENWORTH KS MILITARY REVIEW
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In their review of Army Leader Development and Leadership in the January-February 2012 issue of Military Review, Ryan Hinds and John Steele detail how many of today s Army leaders are dissatisfied with their Professional Military Education PME, particularly in the areas of critical thinking and problem solving. This revelation is not new. A search for the words critical thinking in the Army War College library database will yield hundreds of articles, ranging from calls for cultural change to prescriptions about leadership development. Despite years of writing about it, teaching it, and calling for more of it, the profession remains rather unsettled about its success. For some insight as to why, try this critical thinking exercise put any 10 Army leaders in front of a white board and ask them to come up with a good definition of the word bold. They will think it is easy until they begin. Most quickly discover that despite Webster, words convey different understanding to different people bold to a young armor platoon leader means something very distinct from what it means to a mid-career finance officer, and they hit an impasse. Few are able to provide an effective defense of their views or to challenge the views of their peers with more than a personal opinion. Often they give up, yielding to time, the majority, or a dominant voice. The above is an admittedly unscientific experiment, but it reveals a lot about how we apply the critical thinking skills we have developed through years of PME. Our common understanding of what to do often fails us when we try to apply our knowledge in a real-world setting.
- Administration and Management
- Military Forces and Organizations