Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thinking Critically and Taking Responsibility

Lane Wallace has an interesting article in The New York Times titled "Multicultural Critical Theory. At B-School?"

The central theme is excellent: business schools are wise to teach their students multiple ways to think critically about problems. Then when these students become business leaders, they will be able to analyze a problem with many perspectives. After all, an economist looks at a problem through a different lens than psychologist. Both are valuable views.

She cites the University of Chicago Booth School of Business as a school that is resisting this change. The MBA program "has decided to keep its disciplined based approach," she writes.

She is correct that we are keeping our discipline-based approach. She is incorrect that we are resisting multiple perspectives to problem solving. I've only been at Chicago Booth for one quarter, but I've already begun the process of honing my abilities think critically as a(n):

  • Economist
  • Accountant
  • Financier
  • Political Scientist
  • Historian
  • Marketer
  • Psychologist
  • Statistician
  • Software Developer
  • Philosopher
  • Ethicist
  • Ethnographer.
These are the styles of thought that I can remember employing thus far, but I am certain that there are more.

Ms. Wallace is correct that Chicago Booth does not force us to use all of these perspectives, and some classes are extremely heavily weighted toward a single discipline. However, Chicago Booth students learn as many ways of thinking about a problem as we would like (and the school actually does set a minimum number of disciplines that are required to learn). The ultimate decision rests with us. We determine our own learning paths.

I personally agree that more perspectives are beneficial, and hence I will be taking classes in many subject areas. That is my decision. Some of my classmates will focus deeply on one style of thought. That is their decision.

We Chicago Booth graduates will live the rest of our lives with the decisions that we make while we are here at school. I do not think I could find a single student here who does not appreciate that fact. We take our education seriously. We know that we are preparing ourselves for the world after B-School.

We will do what we think is best, and we will live with the consequences. If we have not learned to broadly enough to succeed, we will suffer the setbacks. We understand.

That is how the real world works.