Your Career and You: “It’s Critical…Thinking”

Publication1I did a little exercise over the weekend that brought home the reality that not all my students are familiar with the concept of proactive thinking.

What precipitated this revelation was an “extra credit” opportunity that I offered to all my Curry College classes based on a typo that I found while reading the Boston Sunday Globe.

Not a huge deal, but I figured, “What the heck? Give ‘em a ‘throwaway’…a no-brainer.” All they had to do was read an article carefully and find the mistake…a fairly obvious mistake.

So I gave them the title of the article and said it was in the Boston Sunday Globe. My mistaken assumption was that they would all leap merrily on this chance to get a guaranteed “A” for accomplishing a simple task, and I would be inundated with responses.

Within a couple of hours, I had gotten four responses…

  1. One asked, “What section of the paper is it in?” (Apparently no attempt whatsoever to look…as the article began at the top of Page One.)
  2. One asked, “Where can I find the article?” (Ditto above)
  3. One asked, “Can you give more information so I can find the article?” (1-2-3-4-5…)
  4. The last was more a statement: “The least you could do is give us the link to the article so we can find it.” (Won’t comment on that one.)

The fascinating part of this is that these are not newly-minted freshmen just learning the ropes of college. These are, for the most part, juniors and seniors…many of whom are starting to set their sights on “life after college” and…jobs!

This isn’t a new topic for me. I’ve gone off on a spree before venting about the reluctance (inability?) of today’s generation to look for solutions to problems. My perception is that they are sitting back complacently waiting for me…or someone…to waltz in the door with the answer for them on a silver platter.

I do have to hasten to add that this characterization doesn’t apply to all…but It’s real.

My challenge, and that of my academic colleagues, is to drive home the point that life doesn’t come with a preset menu of choices. We have to help/make our young charges come to grips with the fact that, more often than not, they will have to sift through the rubble of decision-making to find the solution to the problem at hand.

I’m not totally discouraged by this most recent exercise, however, as I can cheerfully report that, by the end of the evening, I had received a half-dozen correct responses from others, including one who pointed out an error that I had missed.

So there is hope! But the basic point remains. Thinking…It truly IS critical.

“To most people nothing is more troublesome than the effort of thinking.” – James Bryce, “Studies in History and Jurisprudence – Obedience” [1901]


About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, Critical Thinking, Curry College, feedback, Research, Thinking, Undergraduate Communication and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Your Career and You: “It’s Critical…Thinking”

  1. Hi Kirk,
    I am no parent, but it seems to me that we (parents + society +school, etc) protect too much the young ones. Always offering what they need, not challenging them for the basics: like food or shelter (Make your bed!). In Spain we have the same situation for youngsters (14 to 20 something years). Even worse: those in their thirties still live with their parents!

    But back to PR: it really amazes me that with all the facilities they have, the new generations lack curiosity or interest. I mean, Internet is like a magical wand for communications and PR. Everything you want is there. You can talk with people from all over the world. It´s an incredible resource, why don´t you guys use it?! Not long ago we had to go to libraries to read books, articles, newspapers, waiting in lines; now, all you need is a smartphone, tablet or laptop!

    So, my opinion is they lack curiosity in life, that burning desire to discover by themselves, to achieve something through their own capabilities and strengths. I don´t think there is something more rewarding than getting an A through your own work, or getting that job because they could not ignore you (that good you are).

    I stay with: “Life doesn’t come with a preset menu of choices”.

    Thank you Kirk.

    Kind regards,


    • kirkhazlett says:

      Thanks so much, Corina! It IS a worrisome mini-trend, and, as I pointed out in my thoughts, it doesn’t apply to all. But there still is this pervading attitude of “SHOW me.” As a result, it becomes our challenge as educators…and that of today’s and tomorrow’s parents…to motivate/persuade future generations to let the curious side of their nature run free. Ask the seemingly impertinent questions. Challenge the blanket generalizations. “Poke the tiger,” as I love to say. But don’t sit complacently by waiting for the answer to be delivered to you. Not going to happen.

      I really appreciate your reading and very insightful comments! Have a wonderful day!



  2. Pingback: Simon Oh | #Read3: Oct. 13, 2013

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