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Developing the ability "think critically" and to communicate ideas in a cogent, articulate manner are important stages in the development of indivduals aspiring to work in many fields of endeavor, for example, business, law, and the sciences. Unfortunately, there are indications that many American university students are not developing those skills, at least to the degree necessary to excel in certain professions. Learning how to read a document, newspaper, magazine or journal article, or book, and discerning the important points, distinguishing statements of fact from opinion, and conveying the essential information up an organizational chain of command seem to be in decline.
The declining ability of students to learn to think critically and to communicate properly will have negative ramifications for the country, as the absence of such important skills will degrade U.S. economic competitiveness over time. Too many people accept at face value what they read or see on television, without considering factors that may have distorted that information, for example, the biases of a reporter or broadcaster, the failure of a scholar or reporter to properly vet his or her sources of information, and the role poor or careless writing skills can have on any number of processes. Suppose, for example, an individual's fate is contigent on the research of someone else and how that other person's ability to influence the outcome can ride on his or her writing skills. A poorly written document or oral presentation can have serious consequences for individuals, companies, and governments.
Learning to think critically and to communicate cogently are, or should be, part of every individual's education beginning as early in life as possible. Ideally, by college, students should have already been introduced to those skills. Certainly, by the time they graduate from college, they should have them mastered.
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