Thoughts on the Meaning of Life… Todd Helmkamp

A Good Education….

Posted by Vogeler on December 1, 2007

I will be graduating in just a few days with my Bachelor’s degree. It has been a long process; I started it back in 1997 after I graduated from high school. After I failed out in 2000, I didn’t re-enter until 2005. My last three semesters were full-time while having a full-time job and a wife and son. No way could I have done this without the support of my wonderful wife (thanks, Sweetie!), family (thanks, Mom!) and friends. And of course, God.

Anyway, the point of this post was to be the most valuable thing I am taking with me from my education: the ability to think critically.

Critical thinking is not necessarily critiquing someone else’s thoughts or work, although that is part of it. Critical thinking is rather the ability to stop and think logically and as objectively as possible about an idea or thought, and evaluate it on its own terms without shades of personal bias or prejudice.

I think that this is a skill that is sadly lacking in America. Too many people simply swallow whatever the news media or their political and religious leaders tell them because they are either too lazy or naive to check out the facts for themselves, and form their own opinions, or they do not realize that everyone has an agenda, and a person’s perception of facts or events may not be accurate.

Part of what helped develop this skill was my exposure to ideas that are antithetical to my conservative evangelical Christian faith and worldview. By having my beliefs challenged, I was forced to dig deeper and understand where many of my beliefs came from, and what the philosophical underpinnings of them were. This in turn helped me to discard or modify those that were based upon faulty premises or reasoning (I am not going to get specific here, but if any of you are curious, email me and we’ll chat).

The point here is that my education was not important because of the information I acquired, but because I gained the ability to think critically about my thoughts and the thoughts of others.

In the words of Western novelist Louis L’Amour (one of my favorite authors!!!!), “Education is not important for what you learn, but for what it makes you think.”


One Response to “A Good Education….”

  1. nathan said

    woah! Nice Christmas theme dude!

    Yeah, you’re right on here. A couple of months ago I remember hearing a Pastor say we as Christians needed to be careful not to blindly follow every ‘Christian Fad’ that comes along, citing examples such as laughing, barking and public slain in the spirit.

    Critical thinking is even necessary within the conservative evangelical faith, too!

    O, if only everyone I knew understood how to think critically, my world would be a much less troubling place for me.

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