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Cornell President Says Ivy League Schools Teach Students “To Think”

Posted Dec 09 2008 9:06pm

President Nixon made some anti-Ivy-League comments. Here is how one Ivy-League college president recently responded:

David Skorton, the president of Cornell, was apprised of Nixon’s comments over the phone. “My mouth is open,” Skorton said, after the line went quiet. “Gosh, what a negative thing to say. Ivy League schools, like all good universities, teach people to think and to reason, and why would anyone be against that?”

To think and to reason. Now and then I’d hear a Berkeley professor say he taught his students “to think”. When they’d say it to me I’d ask what they meant by thinking. It always turned out that they meant critical thinking, seeing what’s wrong with this or that. Never appreciative thinking. This was like a flight school teaching take-offs but not landings. It also always turned that they were teaching their students how to be like professors–teaching job skills, in other words. To call their job skills “thinking” was like saying the world ended at the nearest river. Sure, their job involved thinking but other jobs also involved thinking, of a much different sort — were they not aware of this?

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