Critical thinking is central to the scientific method and believed to be essential to a successful democracy. Recently, the 2012 Texas Republican platform voiced the party's opposition to the teaching of critical thinking skills in public schools. This stance raises many controversial questions on the GOPs motivation, but also a fundamental question: are public schools in the US successfully teaching critical thinking?
In the West, critical thinking descends from the Socratic method and is a central tenant of the tutor system at the earliest institutions of higher learning (Oxford and Cambridge, for example). This historic dedication of the top institutions to teaching critical thinking suggests that the method is effective. On the other hand, contemporary psychologists of education are suggesting that critical thinking cannot be effectively taught (Willingham, 2008).
Can critical thinking be taught? Are there studies (with proper controls) that show that a course on critical thinking teaching the skill beyond standard domain specific problem-solving/fact-knowing courses?