Critical Thinking

I saw a bumper sticker recently that really spoke to me. It said “CRITICAL THINKING – The Other National Deficit.”

That brought me back to my days at New York University. In one of my liberal arts classes, I remember taking an essay exam that would greatly affect my grade for the semester. The essay question had an obvious answer that had been covered in class but because of the weight of the grade and the fact that the exam was only one question, I read it with new curiosity that sparked new thoughts and ideas on the matter. I remember getting very excited as I handed in my exam. I felt like my professor would read my answer and appreciate the original thought that went into my response. I assumed she wanted my take on the matter.

I assumed wrong.

When I got my paper back, it had a big “C+” on it with a note that said “This is not what I taught you in class.”

A couple of invaluable lessons I learned that day:

  1. Her “what I taught you in class” were memorized facts that she wanted regurgitated back to her. I had misunderstood and thought her intention was “to teach us to think for ourselves based on the facts we were given.” I was wrong.
  2. I’ll never forget the excitement running through my body of stumbling upon a new idea and formulating my own take on it. I felt so alive and wanted to do that again and again so I decided to make a living at that and become a songwriter. That way, I could put words and ideas together to create brand new worlds within the construct of a 3 minute song. What a fun challenge.
  3. The rejection of sharing my ideas and not having them received or heard made me realize the importance of “reading a room.” When people ask you for your thoughts, sometimes they don’t REALLY want to know what you think. They want you to just confirm what they already believe. When I meet someone who honestly DOES want to know what I think, it’s such a pleasure and always a much more interesting conversation. The dialogue goes both ways and we get to explore new ideas together. New ideas spur action and creativity.

I LIVE for this!



  1. In your FB message that linked to this blog you said to tell us what we’re thinking, but after reading the blog I’m not really sure you want me to tell you what I’m thinking or just regurgitate what you are thinking. 😉 ✌🏽

  2. What I’m thinking: that we are stronger than we knew before this health crisis. That my thought process was always: I’m going to make this (a particular thing) happen in my life, and so it will. I must explain that I’ve always had a healthy singer/songwriter ego, plus, I’m in Aries 😉 These days, my thought process is about throwing it up to the Universe. In other words, I’m not in charge, so let’s see what happens. It’s never what I expect, and it’s always an interesting surprise. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through this pandemic emotionally intact, but I’ve definitely found ways to cope. Music is the biggest one of them 🙂 In terms of that class you took, I’m sorry the professor was such a dolt. Teachers are supposed to teach you to think for yourself, not regurgitate. Such limited thinking on her part! That was also her ego talking, and she did you no favors. However, you came to a brilliant solution. And we have benefited from that immensely.

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