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ENGL 103 San Jose State University Closing of The American Mind Essay

Closing of the American Mind essay – the big enchilada

[The required pages to read from Bloom’s book are: 1-137, 173-179, 180-216, and 313-382. You may read any other parts, as you wish.]

In an essay of no less than 2000 words (yes, length matters), do the following:

Draw some of the connections between the readings for the course. Consider that we are in a class that has as its subject, as its discipline, a kind of blend between philosophy and language arts.

On one level of abstraction, critical thinking can be explained through linguistic terms like questioning, arguing, and reasoning.

But then we also read that narrative is the stuff of it.

And Bloom tells us that in a world of relativism, it is hard to believe one’s level of critical thinking is actually all that critical. One can decide between McDonald’s and Jack in the Box–one can make a critical assessment weighing values and comparing numbers, but the relative choice between the two is not all that significant.

Bloom is all about the great books arguing for a kind of grand narrative. He is very much telling us that to know what is really important is to know what has been considered to be important for longer than fifteen minutes…or even a decade.

By drawing connections, you are to give your opinion on the meaning of thinking and what role stories play, as well as discuss the current state of education and thinking in America. Of course, some research is good idea. You should find evidence for how things are.

You can agree or disagree with the ideas covered in the class; just don’t use “I”. Instead write, “There are reasons to doubt some of Bloom’s claims and these include…”

There is room for an original thesis by you. You can and should try to develop some throughline to your essay. Email me what you’re thinking about trying to say.

Your essay must adhere to the MLA format, which refers to how you cite. Yes, that means you must incorporate outside sources. You may research articles on critical thinking or the role of classics in education, or issues related to culture, or politics…


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