Critical Action

A Call To Action

by Adam Goodwin | 2014 | Last Updated: March 27, 2014

#TakeTheActivePledge

I am going to steal an idea from Okanagan Elite Athlete, #TakeTheActivePledge.

#TakeTheActivePledge is a campaign to get people active by 30+ more minutes per day.  Physical activity, in all types, has many positive physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits.  It benefits individuals, families, and communities.

Universities

I have had the privilege of being a part of university communities around the world.  Many universities have differences – different names, obviously, priorities surrounding research or teaching, rank on the world leaders list.  Regardless of an institution’s focus on research or teaching, many have similar learning outcomes for students.

They want students to develop critical thinking skills during their degrees.  Critical thinking has many meanings, and changes slightly based on the what context you refer to the idea.  Basically, in its most basic form, critical thinking is about asking if ideas, information, and actions conform to concepts, evidence, and reasoning about the idea/belief/value/action.  This is a very important skill to develop.

It helps individuals navigate information, media stories, persuasive documents and submissions, and so forth.  It develops one into asking insightful questions to ensure the information received and understood is factual, correct, and logical.

I think this is a much needed skill.  Even more important in a world with increasing amount of commercialized media where profits trump truth telling.  In a place where there is more and more data coming at individuals.  We must be able to critically distinguish good data vs. not-as-good data.  With marketing departments getting more insightful into the behaviours and patterns of consumers, consumers must ask, after watching a influential advertisement on TV, if one really needs that new car to be happy (likely, you do not).

Critical Action

The next step in universities role in human’s social world, is developing a new learning outcome for students.  This is something I term critical action.  It is likely very similar to the term congruence.

Congruence can be defined, simply, as a coming together of separate entities.  In leadership, for instance, it surrounds the idea of the values one states (e.g., “I value honesty) and how these values are reflected in his/her actions (e.g., “Do you agree, in all your actions and behaviours, you are always honest?”).  For the leadership example, many say, yes, I am, but…  Yes, the importance of context is illustrated by this example.  Alas, not to get too off-topic.

Critical action is a new learning outcome I would say all universities need to start considering as a learning outcome for students.  Critical thinking leaves some very reasonable questions?  Is it enough just to critically think about something?  Such as, I understand being rich and having all the money in the world doesn’t necessarily mean I will be happy (this is critically thinking about the accumulation of wealth).  Yet, many still go out everyday and try to find ways to make more money.  There is a gap of what comes out of critical thinking and how this is reflected in actions, behaviours, choices, and lifestyles.

This is what we mean by the term Critical Action.  In today’s world, it is no longer enough to be a good and smooth talker.  One who knows how to say all the right things.  We must reflect these in our actions.

A Call To Action

Spend a few minutes and write down some of your values.  Ask yourself, do my actions and behaviours reflect these values?

Further Reading

You may also be interested in reading: Call For Their Release

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These are one person’s thoughts and opinions.  I welcome and strive to get your feedback and own thoughts. Feel free to comment below or connect with me via social media.

Adam Goodwin is a Canadian working in the United Kingdom, and is a proud shameless idealist. His parents currently work in Cairo, Egypt. He has siblings and distant family in Canada and around the rainbow nation’s only home. Follow his year+ overseas on Twitter (@adam13goodwin) and on this blog.

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