Rational and creative thinking: a life-long skill

Karen Cheng

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Thinking rationally and creatively is a skill that would assist students not only in their learning but also their lives. To enhance their abilities in this regard and to broaden their intellectual horizons, City University of Hong Kong (CityU) is introducing a new General Education course on "Rational Thinking and Creative Ideas" to students in Semester B 2007-08.

Dr Chan Ho-mun, course leader and Associate Professor in the Department of Public and Social Administration, said the skill of thinking rationally and creatively was applicable across different disciplines. "This is a life-long skill that will be useful to students throughout their lives in their pursuit of knowledge, reasoning and problem-solving," he said.

Dr Chan said the course would develop students' understanding of the nature of rationality and creativity and their relationship, in addition to teaching them practical skills. He pointed out that there were many traps or fallacies in our reasoning process and by acquiring the basic principles of rational thinking and their applications, it would help students avoid these pitfalls and think from a broader perspective.

Similarly, he said, our mindsets hinder critical and creative thinking so exposing students to different modes of creative thinking would help them develop an understanding of the nature of creativity and improve their creativity in problem-solving and the pursuit of knowledge.

To facilitate discussion among students, which is a key teaching and learning activity, classes would be taught in the format of workshops to encourage greater interactivity. Daily life and current affairs examples from movies, documentaries and newspapers, as well as cases in different academic areas such as scientific discoveries, technological inventions, groundbreaking ideas in philosophy, thinking styles of historical figures, etc. would be used as illustrations.

Given the need to engage students in active discussion, multiple sections would be offered, with each section accommodating about 40 to 50 people. Two other teaching staff members from the Department of Public and Social Administration, Assistant Professor Dr Hektor Yan King-tak and Instructor Dr Wan Shun-chuen, will join Dr Chan in delivering the course in Semester B, 2007-08.

The 39-hour course is worth three credits. Assessment is based on group projects, take-home assignments, classroom activities and quizzes. You may browse the course's website to learn more about the course as well as what is rational and creative thinking.

In addition to "Rational Thinking and Creative Ideas", CityU will offer five other GE courses in the second semester of 2007-08, including "Chinese Cultural Heritage in Modern Perspective", "Cinema: East and West", "Information Management and its Social Impact", "Identity and Citizenship in a Globalised World" and "Science and Technology: From Past to Future".

For more details on GE courses, please visit http://vpue.cityu.edu.hk/ge/


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