For more than 60 years now I have had an affectionate relationship with Jewell. No, this Jewell is not a woman; rather it is how William Jewell College (in Liberty, Mo.) is often referred to.
The Campus of Achievement
William Jewell College was founded in 1849 and named for the Columbia, Mo., medical doctor who was a major donor of the needed funds for building a college on top of a large hill in the small town of Liberty.
June and I graduated from Jewell 110 years after its founding, transferring there after graduating from junior college and getting married in May 1957. In time, all of our four children would also graduate from Jewell.
Through the years I had the opportunity of teaching some courses at Jewell when on missionary furlough from Japan and after retirement.
While the college motto was, and remains, Deo Fisus Labora (Trust in God and Work), Jewell was long touted as the Campus of Achievement, and for 75 years selected graduates have been awarded citations at Achievement Day ceremonies each year.
(I was the probably undeserving recipient of one of the Citation for Achievement awards in 1982.)
The Critical Thinking College
While William Jewell College will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Celebration of Achievement from Feb. 27 to March 1, 2019, a new registered trademark, “The Critical Thinking College,” is now regularly used.
I have mixed feelings about Jewell’s new slogan. It’s not that I am against critical thinking. Far from it. But I am not sure it is distinctive enough. Colleges and universities all over the country seek to foster critical thinking, as they should.
But if Jewell can actually achieve nurturing a high percentage of her students to become critical thinkers, that would be an achievement of major importance.
What is Critical Thinking?
Recently I read Steven Schuster’s 2018 bookThe Critical Thinker. The first chapter of that helpful book is “What is Critical Thinking?” In response to this basic question, Schuster writes,
Critical thinking occurs when we ask ourselves (and others) questions like “How do you know that?” or “How did you reach that conclusion?” or “What evidence supports this theory?” or “Are there any other possible explanations or alternatives that haven’t been considered yet?”
Critical thinkers rarely follow a gut feeling. [What does this say about DJT?] They use logic and reasoning to reach their conclusions, rather than letting themselves be guided by their emotions (p. 11).
Back when I was a student at Jewell, there was no use of the term “critical thinking.” But I am confident I learned much about thinking critically then, especially in the Philosophy of Religion class, about which I have written previously (see here).
Further, I am happy to say that my four children are, by and large, critical thinkers. That is not solely because they are Jewell graduates, but the education they got there surely helped them hone the important skills of critical thinking.
Wednesday evening, we attended a meeting at which Dr. Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, who has been the president of Jewell since 2016, spoke about the college as it is now and as she hopes it will become in the near future.
“The Critical Thinking College” has been a primary emphasis of Dr. MacLeod Walls, and that emphasis, among others, is being credited with the recovery of the college from several years of some decline.The picture below is one I took of June with Dr. MacLeod Walls on Wednesday evening. We are happy to be supporters of Jewell, her president, and the emphasis on critical thinking as the college celebrates its 170th anniversary next year.