The Shortage of Critical Thinking Skills Among Chinese MBA StudentsBack in 2007, when Marc Andreessen was still writing his blog (it seems to have gone on permanent hiatus in August of last year), I mentioned that Andreessen recommends that "high potential people who want to excel throughout their careers and make a significant impact on their fields and the world" bypass the liberal arts in college in favor of a "substantive" concentration in a field such as engineering.
This is not a view I share, so I was naturally interested in a counter-perspective offered by Randy Pollock, a consultant based in China who taught MBA students there for two years. In a newspaper column published earlier this month, Pollock laments the shortage of critical and creative thinking skills he encountered among the students. For instance, the difference between a summary of a fact situation, and an analysis of same, was hard for his students to grasp and had to be repeatedly re-explained.
In his peroration, Pollock argues that
Ultimately for China, becoming a major world innovator and by extension, a robust economic power is not just about setting up partnerships with top Western universities or roping off elites and telling them to think creatively. It's about establishing an intellectually rich learning environment for young minds. It's about harnessing the same inventive energy of the street markets and small-time entrepreneurs and putting it in the schools.For reference, a summary of basic critical thinking skills can be found here.
The Chinese don't need expensive free-agent scientists. They need a new farm system and about 10 million liberal arts professors.