(Original post by Kolya)
I think you should take CT. In this post I will present a short argument for doing so, and challenge to some of the objections put forward (on this thread and elsewhere). I hope you find it useful in making your decision.
Let us first propose a basic, simplified argument, and then meet objections that are relevant to the argument.
R1 The skills learnt in CT help one analyse, evaluate, and produce arguments; and these skills are exceptionally useful not only in Philosophy, Law, and Medicine, but in a general approach to reading and writing - an approach that will last a lifetime.
R2 CT teaches skills which are given short shrift in other subjects taught at school, and therefore provides skills in which many students will show deficiency.
IC Therefore, CT can further the intellectual development of students in a currently unsupported and neglected area
R3 The CT AS teaches skills instead of a large amount of theory, and once these skills are taught, they can be put into practise in one's daily life, without needing to spend a great deal of time explicitly studying them.
C Many students, including the OP, would benefit from studying Critical Thinking at A-level.
Time to consider points raised, and objections.
Objection:"A few of them say it in their prospectuses ('We don't accept CT at past AS level, even if you have done the full A-level')."
My Response Your conclusion does not follow naturally; there are other explanations you have not considered. In this case, to accept your reason, that a university does not accept CT as part of a grade offer to A2, does not mean that one then logically has to accept your conclusion. Why should we jump to such a strong statement as they "don't like it done at A-level"? Surely you would agree that a weaker yet equally valid conclusion, from the evidence provided, is that they want you to demonstrate your ability to cope with the workload of three "full" A-level subjects? I don't believe anybody is suggesting that the OP does two full A-level subjects and CT; we are saying that three A-level subjects with Critical Thinking on top will be beneficial. Where have the top universities said that an arrangement with Critical Thinking as an "extra" is not acceptable, and that they "don't like it done at A-level"? Can you now see why your conclusion is too strong, given the evidence?
Objection It is certainly true to say that very few, if any, good universities (in particular those making offers in terms of grades rather than the devalued currency of UCAS tariff points) will accept a CT A level as meeting their requirements for A2s. And few will accept AS CT as an AS - you normally need a CT A2 for that.
And it is also true to say that employers will not waive their requirement for passing any critical reasoning tests they may use if you have a CT A2 qualification.
My Response If the means, in this case one's A-levels, has the sole end of obtaining as "good" a university place as possible then I would agree that Critical Thinking is worth very little. However, is that the sole end of A-levels? They are a form of education; can education not be pursued for other benefits beyond university admission, or even pursued for its own sake? With so much information available, it is vital that one is able to sort that which is true from that which is false, and able to sort that which is useful from that which is useless. In one's studies, being able to produce an argument with academic rigour is necessary for one to achieve success in one's field. The skills of analyzing and evaluating an argument, and then producing your own counter-argument - the skills that are the exact focus of the Critical Thinking A-level - are valuable in the course of your other studies, and they can help when reading newspapers or watching the television. The skills are not the primary focus of any other A-levels, even though they are they exist as a necessary element of a well-rounded education.One could even argue that developing those skills within the body of a firm, educated mind, is just as important as the application of those skills, although there is no doubt that such application will occur regularly. As the core basis of a thorough education they allow man to be the master of reason. Yet some posters proclaim that man's mastery of reason should be supplanted by the whimsical ideas of university admission tutors!
I do not deny that it is true that there is the possibility that these skills can be developed during the course of other studies, but what better way to gain confidence in thinking critically than by undergoing a targeted, systematic study of those very skills? By taking Critical Thinking, one is able to develop those skills that are vital for success in future studies and, just as importantly, vital for us to fulfill the role as conscientious and truly upstanding citizens of our democratic country.
And thus, the phrase, "it doesn't count for anything," becomes as scary as it is absurd.
Objection Schools want their pupils to do CT/GS because it boots their average UCAS points scare; they get extra money from the government for entering their puils into an extra exam subject that they don't have to teach to the same extent as a normal subject; and it looks good when Ofsted inspect a sixth form as it is evidence of "enrichment". I have 5 A grade AS levels, I asked to be let out of doing GS, and I was told I had to. So I didn't turn up to a single lesson, or any of the mocks, and got an A. I know CT isn't the same joke subject as GS, but the motivations behind asking students to study it are pretty much the same - they benefit the school, not you
My Response Whether this was intended as an objection of not, it is still worth stating that ulterior motives on the part of the school have no effect on the intrinsic worth of a course in CT.
Objection The reason it is seen as a doss subject by the universities is because they don't want people choosing the subject as one of their main subjects. With 'full subject' dedication, an A is easily achievable and thus the subject doesn't act as a discriminator.
My Response There is a difference between a 'doss subject' and a subject that is not accepted because it is not seen as a full-time subject. It would be illogical for a university to accept a subject that can be down in a sixth of the time of other subjects. The purpose of Critical Thinking never was to act as a main subject; the subject should be supplementary to at least three other mainstream ones. It provides you with skills that can be applied in your other subjects and outside of the academic sphere, but, without the application of the skills, Critical Thinking for its own sake is prohibitively narrow. However, this does not make it any less useful, far from it. I would go as far as to say, in my application to read Maths, my grade in Critical Thinking looks far better than if I had got - in addition to my other 5 A Levels - AAA in Media Studies, Photography, and Film Studies.
Objection A language A level will be useful for the rest of your life, it's very desirable
My Response One could argue that CT is useful every time you read or write an argument, and a language is unlikely to have as much use. (Unless, of course, you end up using it extremely regularly in everyday use.)
Ojbection part from for amusement and personal interest it's a bit of a wate of time in my opinion - as an A-level, given that no-one respects it.
Response I take this as a construction of the form: given A: B? As no one respects CT, it is a waste of time? This seems suspiciously like an appeal to popularity. Whether anybody respects CT is unconnected to its intellectual worth as a subject. One could argue that although the qualification may not be explicitly considered by an individual - and this itself is debatable, as shown in the thread - the personal improvement from being able to apply the skills will show themselves in a lot of the intellectual work that one does.
Objection i'm still unsure how otherwise highly intelligent people fail it
My Response CT focuses on skills that are not given much explicit coverage in other subjects, and the nature of the course, which is one of skill-application, not theory-learning, is novel to many of those "otherwise highly intelligent people."
Objection Just listen to the name. 'Critical Thinking'. Ranks up there with 'General Studies'.
My Response I couldn't resist mentioning this one. We could apply a generally-accepted pragmatic principle: do not judge something by its name. (Think Shakespeare, and all that jazz.)
I am dismayed at how many people consider a subject on its position, as viewed by Oxbridge. Do the subjects that are most beneficial to you as a person, as well as those from which you will get the most satisfaction.
Objection Personally Kolya, I'd be worried about any potential Oxbridge candidate who couldn't pick up, by themselves, the skills CT ostensibly gives, simply by their own reading and a bit of common sense - you don't need to have been taught the straw man argument to know when someone is talking *******s in an article or speech, nor do you need it to deliver a suitable rebuttal without resorting to the same tactics yourself.
My Response CT skills may be present to a greater degree in your "potential Oxbridge candidate", but they would not be as refined as they could be if the candidate conscientiously and explicitly studied CT. Remember that admission to many subjects will be based on academic performance in that subject, and this may not require application of CT skills, so a lack of skills in that area is not necessarily an immediately apparent deficiency in the application process.
Objection As for the language comment - I can't help feeling that makes you a bit narrow-minded, because a language A level isn't just the vocabulary and grammar, it's culture, politics and current affairs, and a lot of pretty diverse courses, not just at Oxbridge, make use of language A levels - English (!), Geography, Law, Business, Philosophy (being able to read Durkheim and Decartes in the original would be nice). Learning a language gives you the skills to help learn a Biblical language, should you do a course like Philosophy and Theology. If you want to work for the civil service, if you might end up working for an NGO in parts of Africa - a lot of people might speak English, but not everyone, and sometimes even a basic knowledge of a foreign language can show respect and get you quite far.
My Response I completely agree that languages can be great! However, I feel that, in general, CT can be more useful to more people than a language A-level. This statement, and your comment, can be true simultaneously. If possible, I would recommend that the OP takes both CT and French, as this would provide all the benefits described.
Objection Sorry to interupt here, but how can anyone say CT is a better subject than a language A-level. In my opinion, there really isn't a comparison here. Languages provide you with the key to a whole new culture, tradition and way of thinking!! They're truly amazing tools and are really quite irreplaceable. If you get put in a completely different country with a different language, you would get absolutely NOWHERE if you couldn't speak the language.
My Response It was never argued that it is somehow a "better" subject. I have the deepest respect for languages, and the points you made are valid, but the skills taught in CT are also amazing tools", and, in the context of a student going on to study Philosophy, one could argue they are more useful tools than an A-level in a language.
Objection What one needs to ask is how many actually prepare enough to be able to get an A? It is hardly surprising that not many get As in CT if they don't try.
My Response I would consider the average level of preparation superfluous as most students take it as an extension subject with one lesson a week, one could argue that is its purpose and that no more work beyond that is required to achieve the top grade; taking this knowledge into account, can you agree that comparison between students is valid as most are in the same situation? The reason I brought the question up is that the figures are not available in the list of subject results that were published online and in newspapers.
ObjectionAre you in essence stating that the average level of preparation is excessive or more than required because I get that impression from your use of superfluous? Then you say the exact opposite in your next sentence that excessive preparation isn't required? I'm a bit confused but that's probably because I most likely don't get it; as per usual. I'm just as much as a freak as you!!! Lol
My Response Sorry if I did not make it clear; I was referring to the consideration of how much preparation somebody has, when looking at grades, in my use of superfluous. For example, someone might say that they only had one lesson a week of CT and therefore they only got a D grade, but considering that most people have that level of preparation then you can compare grades as you would with other subjects.
It is different with the very small level of preparation you had, but it seems most people had about one lesson, lasting an hour, per week, and that is definitely enough preparation to get an A in the subject. When somebody says they 'didn't try,' it does not necessarily mean they put in any less work than other people, just that they do not realize that CT requires quality and not quantity of work.