The Impact of the CCT Program – in the words of graduates
See Scholarworks for abstracts and full-text capstone projects developed by students completing the requirements of the MA program.
Casey Andrews, May 2019
I began CCT in an effort to continue to challenge my process as a high school English teacher. What I gained from the program surpassed my expectations and both impacted my pedagogy, my practices, and my personal life. In particular, as an educator myself, I appreciated the ways that program is structured to support each individual student to build on their own ideas and knowledge while widening their perspectives and challenging them towards new paths of thinking and creating. As a result of the CCT program, I started an entirely new course at the high school where I teach, created and initiated a professional development strand for teachers at the school, and fundraised for/started a brand-new trip for 12th grade students. I couldn’t have anticipated these outcomes when I started CCT, and I am enormously grateful for the ways I’ve grown through the program’s guidance.
Mare Ambrose, December 2016
After completing my certificate in 2015, I designed a course called Philosophy for Children based on my work in CCT and am now teaching it at Bridgewater State University. In fact, I am slated to teach it again in the spring with several sections. This sophomore seminar elective has wide appeal as it can be applied across majors in Philosophy, Elementary Education, and Childhood Studies. So far the course has been preparation and practice in the college classroom only (mock Socratic Dialogues using picture books and novels as springboards), but recently I received a nod for a community-service learning application; therefore, it looks like I will have approval and funding to bring the undergrads and some third or fourth graders together in the Fall, 2017 for some philosophical inquiry. It will be limited at first, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. Eventually, I hope we can become a regular fixture in the classroom and even provide some professional development for teachers who wish to practice with their own students. At least, in the meantime, we can demonstrate the benefits of doing philosophy with school children. This experience has been challenging and exhilarating, but it is so satisfying to see this work being put into practice.
Jill Corson Lake, Graduation Speech, May 2016
I entered the CCT program in 2013 with the hope that the program could help me to be better at the various roles I play in life: mother, artist, writer, and Director of Advising at Parsons School of Design. I got my wish and so much more that I didn’t envision when I applied to the program. Before I engaged in and challenged myself in the program, I was too much of many things: Too judgmental, too critical in a reactive, criticizing kind of way, too unsure of myself, and too concerned about others’ opinions of me and my work. Studying in the CCT program has been humbling. I learned in my first semester that I was not a critical thinker. Rather, I was a non-critical thinker who didn’t really understand what critical thinking is. But I learned. I have learned so much in this program. I learned how to challenge my assumptions and to identify my points of reference. I’ve learned how to engage in methodological belief and step into another person’s shoes to look at a situation from his point of view. I’ve learned about the importance of reflection and metacognition — or thinking about my own thinking.
In our social media age, lots of people are quick to “like” something on Facebook, or they’re quick to write an angry comment in response to a news story. They may not have even read the article. They may have just reacted quickly to the headline and the first sentence. This is not an example of critical thinking. Rather, this popular tendency shows the desperate need in our culture for compassion, reflection, the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas, and the ability to listen.
Last Sunday I attended a lovely outdoor birthday party for the friend of my son Bryce. There was a scavenger hunt. A band of kids ran through the yard and up a hill on the hunt for the next clue. Meanwhile, I sat at a table and talked with some of the parents. Some of them who know me well congratulated me on finishing my graduate program. Another parent, whom I had just met, asked what I had studied. I told him that I’ve been studying Critical and Creative Thinking. He said, “what are you going to do with that?”
“Everything,” I said. “Everything.”
Now, I didn’t mean EVERYTHING in a megalomaniacal way like Lord Business of the LEGO movie. No. What I meant while talking with this gentleman at the birthday party is that I can apply what I’ve learned in the CCT program to everything I do. Parenting, the building and maintenance of relationships, art-making, writing, my current job, a future new job that I’m seeking now, and my new role as a school board member, which will begin in July. Critical and creative thinking will help me with all of these things. Truly, the CCT program will help me to envision, research, and produce whatever projects or other endeavors I take on in the future. I’ve learned practices and skills that I’ll tap into and use over and over again throughout life.
I studied the work of Bill Isaacs in the Dialogue Processes class I took as part of the CCT program. Isaacs teaches at MIT and he leads a consulting firm called Dialogos. He has studied how dialogue works, how to lead groups in dialogue, and how groups of people can generate something entirely new together when they engage in dialogue. Isaacs says that in order for us to be effective in life, we must first work on ourselves before we can shape the collective. We must discover and recover who we are. I did this in the CCT program. I discovered that at my core, I’m a learner. And, I love to share what I’ve learned through storytelling. My stories may take the form of photographs, written text, audio recordings, or a website, like the one I created as part of my synthesis project.
Now once we discover and recover who we are, Bill Isaacs urges us all of us do three things. He says:
– go in the direction of your deepest passion
– dare to own your own authority
– listen to what you’re here to serve — and bring it forth
I did these things in the CCT program, and I will continue to work on them, and to identify my vocation. I learned things about myself were not clear to me when I applied to the CCT program. I’ve become a community activist. And, I see that my deepest passions include education, sharing nature with children, and learning about the histories of the places where we live to better understand the world. I believe in science, environmentalism, land conservation, and efforts to improve public health through exposure to nature.
I’m so grateful to have been part of a community of learners led by Peter, Jeremy, and the CCT faculty. I’m grateful to my peers for helping me to grow and learn through our collaboration. And, I’m deeply grateful to my husband Taggart Lake, who ran our household and cared for our sons while I engaged in the CCT program. I’m grateful to my sons Mac and Bryce for their patience with me for the past three years. We are going to celebrate together this weekend in Boston! I’m also grateful to my parents who wanted to support this learning endeavor by paying for my tuition. Thank you to all of you who have guided and supported me in this journey. I look forward to our continued collaboration.
Marnie Jain, January 2016
There is frequent discussion in my workplace regarding the value of college vs. debt and if everyone needs to go to college, etc. A friend asked if the CCT program has made any difference to my life. My response went something like this…
Did CCT benefit me financially? Not significantly, but that was not my goal.
Did CCT benefit my art? Yes, yes, yes! But my creativity and my work developed along with my confidence and my openness to inquiry.
At the last Jamaica Plain Open Studios, September of 2015, I sold an unprecedented amount of work. But it wasn’t the money that excited me. Several people told me that they have been following my work for a few years and were waiting for the right collage, one that spoke to them. That meant more to me than anything.
I think that the CCT program influences me continuously. I suppose that is an obvious statement. I tend toward those. It didn’t make me a new person… I am still self-deprecating…. though I catch and curtail that mindset better now. I still have many uncertainties about my art…. but I sometimes use those uncertainties to drive my work or take a risk. I am good at accepting the emotions I feel and letting them tell me something I might need to know, rather than judging them…
I am still at the same job. I also spend a great deal of time in my studio (a room in my apartment). I belong to the Newton Talk of the Town Toastmasters. That has been good for my confidence. I even went through two contest levels with a humorous speech titled Lies My Mother Told Me…
I was in a members’ exhibit at The Attleboro Arts Museum recently. I did not win any of the awards; however, one of my collages was featured on the main exhibit wall, and it was also mentioned in a local write-up.
Thank you all for being my teachers and for being people that I admire and who continue to remind me of the good and the positive and the possible.
Rhoda Maurer, Graduation Speech, May 2015
For 18 years I was working in public horticulture starting as a gardener and growing into responsibilities of managing the plant records, plant growth facilities, and teaching adult education moving me from Seattle to a small arboretum in SE Pennsylvania. But I had also started to listen to a bubbling concern that was growing in me about how public horticulture seemed to be giving prescribed answers for complex problems of climate change and how to live with the natural world.
Four years ago I participated in two Center for Digital Storytelling Workshops where the story circle space honored my visual expression through my photography, a space of learning from our histories, a supportive environment for taking apart and putting back together again things held tightly to our identities. But that experience only lasted 5 days, and I wanted more of that kind of learning space to help me grapple with my growing questions of how horticulture, art, and awareness of our environment add value to people’s lives, reconnecting me with my undergraduate work in Anthropology.
When I enrolled in the Science in a Changing World (SICW) program, I was looking for a place where I could discover ways that public horticulture might grow to serve the changing realities of our complex world. That was in the fall of 2011 just months before I was laid off from my job due to the trickle down impacts of the 2008 recession. I had been thinking about the challenges of philanthropic decline, missions grounded in plant hunting, competition and display, the questions about climate change that plagued our visitors and the limited audiences we seemed to connect with. Yet I had no real idea how the program would support this inquiry. Six months later I found myself asking Joe, my life partner, to move with me to Upstate NY for a new job. For 3 years my life was interwoven with graduate studies, workshop opportunities through Cornell University and the New England Workshop for Science and Social Change, and applying my thinking to leading a team of research support technicians who worked closely with faculty and facilities support staff at NYSAES.
So what is it like to be a CCT/SICW student… first its like feeling lost and confused and fearful of being good enough, knowing enough, or being able to learn enough that is somehow novel and important for yourself and others. And then it’s having all that you already know honored and challenged at the same time. The supportive structures of community and PBL/CCT pedagogy allow you to go places with your learning you’ve never gone before, into the deeper layers of what’s most important to you. You feel safe peeling back the layers of conventional ideas so taken for granted. After some time in these spaces of inquiry based learning, you start to feel safe peeling back the layers of digging deep into the assumptions and biases we all carry with us through the many spaces we engage with life.
What I’ve come to understand during my graduate work is that practicing critical & creative thinking processes through a combination of creative modalities developed asynchronously yet in concert with each other are central to building the clarity of my learning so that I can share my thoughts with others.
What I hold dearest from the clarity I’ve gained is my concern about the empowerment of people to shape their own lives specifically through re-crafting their personal narratives and aligning behaviors with beliefs. I believe this is the deeper work we must all practice in order to be our best selves for others. Yet I also come to believe this work cannot be done alone. For us to become empowered, we must practice in a supportive community of non-judgment and respect, built from risk-taking and witnessing each other’s stories.
Through my research, I’ve come to appreciate that my original inquiry is deeply rooted in my quest to understand my own connection with nature in the context of my life purpose and work. And I have been and continue to be on a journey framed in working to support exploration and change at the individual level of awareness rather than the bigger scale of the environmental movement. Yet I’ve also come to understand that the power of change is held within me. And that supporting myself in this environment will translate into supporting others.
I’ve grown from someone concerned about finding the answers to complex socio-economic-biological problems to someone seeking to create spaces of support where the seed of discovery for finding answers together grows. With the courage I’ve gained through my practice, I feel more able to find an opening into hearing others and myself as valuable contributors to the beauty of our complex humanity, finding solutions we might not have seen before.
As some of you know, I found myself accepting the position of Director of Horticulture for the botanic gardens and arboreta of Cornell University just 4 months ago, a landing and a beginning I’ve been seeking for years.
As I’ve transitioned into my new place of employment, I’ve brought the practices grown in the SICW program with me. I am seeking to inspire others to plant, nurture and grow the seeds of their wonder and their gifts, in the context of creating a better world. We are creating spaces of exploration around bio-cultural diversity, taking stock of our programs and mission, and crafting a new vision for the future of Cornell Plantations. And I am excited that we are creating dialogues about our organizational structure and dynamics alongside our name.
I’m coming to appreciate how deeply the SICW experience and support from all of you have been a gift of gaining tools, processes, and clarity to support organizing my mind and the actions that lead from my heart. You’ve allowed me to be heard, and you’ve allowed me to practice, fumble around, and put things back together again. Thank you sharing a space of planting, nurturing and growing the seeds of my wonder in the context of creating a better world.
(See also earlier comments)
Kerri Arruda, March 2015
The Critical and Creative Thinking program has always provided me with courses that demanded my work offered a portion of myself, as opposed to being fed information and accurately feeding it back in return. Creative Thinking encouraged me to welcome my wildest ideas while Critical Thinking advised me to streamline the wildest ideas thus selecting those more feasible. Dialogue Processes demonstrated that communication could be collectively innovative while Metacognition kept me in check of my own thought processes and biases. The final three Critical and Creative Thinking courses, Processes of Research and Engagement, Action Research, and Synthesis of Theory and Practice, pushed me to use my skills to create potential change based on my own personal inspiration. I was forced to create and think, recreate and rethink, evaluate and research, build constituencies and self-assess, and cycle through the process again and again. My failures were seen merely as stepping stones. My professors and peers remained unconditionally supportive along my journey.
Loli Nardi, March 2015
CCT teaches “iterative” thinking, and groupwork at its best. I love to talk to people, but now with my two years training at CCT, I not only talk “socially” to people, I have learned to approach people with my ideas and projects, I have lost the fear to talk about my research dreams and plans, I gather different professionals and have motivated and engaged people to work together and create workshops and videos, and ideas where there were none before… And I feel more secure than I used to be because I have now concrete tools that support my reflection and work and re-work on those ideas to see which ones become fertile, and mature and seem rich enough to take out to the world and share… And if it is not one, it will be the next, but now I have my iterative process that I respect and follow and gives me enough confidence to go out there and be proud enough to say here, come and listen, I have something to share, I am taking myself and others seriously!
Mike Chalukian, March 2015
The Program produces tangible skills, if one knows what to look for or expect. Asking good questions, striving for clarity, challenging long-held assumptions are tangible, but often seen as critical and a negative perspective. Although, my initial application was about education and improving instruction, my personal growth seems to be the most important and unexpected part of the program and critical thinking. In many ways the program allows a person to explore who they are and what they believe in a different way with more detail and texture. A place where being unsure and uncertain is accepted and even encouraged because that is where meaningful change and growth begin.
Rhoda Maurer, January-April 2015
Through my research in the CCT program, I’ve come to appreciate that my original inquiry is deeply rooted in my quest to understand my own connection with nature in the context of my life purpose and work. And I have been and continue to be on a journey framed in working to support exploration and change at the individual level of awareness rather than the bigger scale of the environmental movement. Yet I’ve also come to understand that the power of change is held within me. And that supporting myself in this environment will translate into supporting others. My capstone synthesis focused, therefore, on my development as a leader/mentor of people I work with while also honoring my personal development as a reflective practitioner.
Yet it’s not so much about the tangible skills that I practice as it is about the change of mind I’ve develop through the CCT program. I have become empowered through a supportive structure that allows for my individual growth (belief in myself as an agent of change, but from a position of concern for possibility and honoring others rather than absolute knowing).
Three years ago if I had taken a job like the one I now have [Director of Horticulture, Cornell University Plantations] I don’t know if I would have been as comfortable with the discomfort of this kind of transition. And I don’t know if I would have been so confident in the slow process, giving myself permission to change my mind, adapt and model the kind of environment I want to create considering the tension with producing something tangible by Administration.
It’s important to clarify that this transformation was not as much a literal change as it was a depth of confidence, clarity, and defined purpose for me in the how of leading change, a growth of courage. This is not simply defined by the tangible skills that I learned and continue to practice as much as it is about the alignment of heart, mind and hand I’ve experienced through the program. I have become empowered through a supportive structure that allows for my individual growth and reconnection with the deeper parts of myself (a belief in myself as an agent of change, but from a position of concern for possibility, a tolerance for ambiguity, and honoring others rather than absolute knowing). The skills I’ve practiced and the spaces I’ve experienced have been scaffolds to my own learning, supporting a transformation of my heart and an alignment between my soul and behaviors. And this transformation of self has grown to support others in my life through sharing my practice in the forms of tools and stories.
Steve Guenin, December 2014, March 2015
CrCrTh offered what I had been searching for, a curriculum with interesting online courses that would potentially open new professional doors. From the beginning I found myself with a group of like – minded professionals looking for ways to improve personally and professionally. Originally my goal was to earn a degree enabling me to teach a critical thinking and creativity course, but I found more. I realized the importance of being creative in my life beyond what I was doing in the classroom. I have since learned to create stained glass work and have experimented with painting again. Most importantly, through my course work I have realized if I don’t like my circumstances it is up to me to change them – something I wish I would have known when I was much younger.
What CCT has produced in me: “Confident, inquisitive, reflective individual who has developed the skills necessary to make positive change.”
Sheryl Savage, September 2014
I have landed my dream job—Vice President of Fund Development for the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association. I am delighted to be in a place where I can help so many, from the very young to the very old, by providing innovative and exceptional health care services in the home and in the communities we serve. My CCT training in all areas, but especially being able to think outside ‘the nine dots’ and to be a risk taker, as well as a problem solver, led me to this position. Thank you!
Kyle Lindholm, July 2014
Ten years after graduating from the CCT Program at UMB, I am still discovering helpful tools. Over the past decade my teaching career has continued to be enriched by my experiences with CCT. Whether in the development of curriculum for the college studio art classroom or in my own personal work I have found myself revisiting many CCT concepts in order to sustain momentum. Dr. Taylor’s impressive, “Phases of Research and Engagement” has continued to provide structure and direction to my personal and professional research. Most appreciative is that the techniques inside provide strategic positioning for both short- and long-range goals.
Most recently, I found Dr. Greenwald’s handbook, “Problem Based Learning for Science Education” an invaluable model for a new Concept Design Incubator course I taught here in Boston. Incorporating her research and other supportive CCT models allowed me to implement a fresh approach to the course and helped make it a satisfying experience for class members. Design Incubator students produced not just high-level front-end visual designs but applied their skills with a notable engagement and a deep sense of play in order to solve real-world problems. Products ranged from bicycle commuter mobile applications for safe riding on Boston roadways to recyclable package designs. More importantly, the process was personally meaningful.
Faheem Syed Abbas, May 2014
What you won’t hear in his speech is mention of challenges that are quite hard for us here to envision. Or, I should say, hard until the Marathon day events of last year. For, during the course of his CCT studies, Faheem had to move his family out of their home into a hotel and then to a different city as political and religious violence came too close and led to the death of a relative. As you will hear, Faheem appreciates what CCT has given him. But I hope that one day we may be able to invert the direction of learning—If CCT is going to serve well our online students in turbulent parts of the world, we have a lot still to learn from them about the move from thinking to practice in our diverse globalized and unequal world. Peter Taylor
David Choi, new student, March 2014
I just finished Taking Yourself Seriously this afternoon. It is exactly the reason I joined this program. What a great book. I haven’t been able to formulate good questions yet because all of it is so good and I’m still reeling. I went back and read some of my reflections from my sabbatical experience last semester. I read some journal entries in which I clarified for myself (and discovered) the type of work I want to do and the types of things I want to learn. One page in particular basically was me longing for a resource like TYS and the CCT without realizing at the time such a thing existed!
Kevin Johnson, March 2014
A project I’ve been working on for the past three years that has really taken off here at Berklee College of Music… Its called Training Transformational Teachers (TTT) and it blends the latest research from the fields of neuroscience, cognitive science, and universal design learning to give faculty participants strategies for how to help their students understand more content and concepts more deeply, http://berkleefacultydevelopment.com/ttt CCT definitely gave me the confidence and skills to help put this project together. Thank you.
Elin Schran, July 2013
Skater of the month: http://therink.pro/elin-gardiner-schran-julys-skater-of-the-month/ “Creator of The Boston Ice Theater, co-founder of Frozen Frog Productions, IceFlow Edge Class and a much sought after choreographer…Elin’s multi-faceted approach to skating is fed not only by her practical experience as a skater in a variety of tours, …but also by a deep understanding of the creative process evidenced by her Master’s Degree in Critical and Creative Thinking.”
Teryl Cartwright, May 2013
Video of her address at Commencement (minus about a minute at the start due to a technical snafu at the videolab)
Felicia Sullivan, PhD Candidate in Public Policy
As a doctoral student in public policy, I came to the Science in a Changing World graduate certificate looking for ways to add new knowledge in the area of science and technology policy to my elective coursework. While I found content, I also found so much more in the courses I took. The inverted pedagogy of the offerings allowed me to find new research questions and built my skills as an independent inquirer. Even though I had taken a sequence of research methods courses in my doctoral program, the courses in the Science in a Changing World tract really put in the drivers’ seat and solidified what it meant to be a researcher.
In addition to building my research skills, my experience in the program also transformed the way in which I taught my graduate and undergraduate courses. I implemented new methods such as problem-based learning scenarios and critical reflection. As I had found the courses I had taken more engaging, my students found these redesigned offerings also more challenging and insightful. The Science in a Changing World tract has significantly changed how I research and teach, which is so much more than I had thought I would get from these few course.
Sophia Kim, June 2012
I took a course at UMass Boston’s Critical and Creative Thinking program on action research (CCT 693). It was a fascinating, engaging, and incredibly useful class for me in my stage of thinking and reflecting at that time. I came to the class having been out of the classroom setting for almost 10 years after finishing my M.Ed. and working for the whole time in the nonprofit sector, in human services. I was looking for a chance to be a student again, to be among classmates and a professor who would push my thinking, and to have time to really focus on my own personal and professional development. This class provided me all those opportunities.
I focused on my own “personal change” as my action research project, and used the time of the 14 or so weeks to reflect, read, get feedback, hone, and come to more clarity on my own life journey. I’m still currently on that journey, but it’s a much more focused journey where I have some tools now to help me move forward. I was able to develop some life aspirations and an evaluation method to check in on those aspirations after actions that I take. I also learned the value of feedback and support from others, strangers or close friends, and in that vein, I am talking more to others about my journey and have also started a blog to put my thoughts and actions out into the world. I would not be in the same place now if not for this course.
Ashley Smith, November 2009
[I studied in CCT] instead of doing the traditional route that people normally take in my field of study (getting an MBA) and mastering my field of marketing. I believed and still believe that I am getting an even more valuable education as well as skills that will help me in my every day tasks at work. When searching for a masters degree program, I was very intrigued by the idea of CCT. I appreciated that it was a program that was against the single-minded thinking that our society and some schools promote. The world definitely is constantly changing, and often programs do not change with the times. One of the special things about CCT is that the lessons and skills that are taught are adjustable and universal; they can be applied to various situations. In single-minded straight forward graduate programs, so much material is left out. One of the most important pieces is how to deal with a problem when times have changed; even if you do posses “qualifications.”
Stories conveyed to Chancellor Collins, Fall 2005
Crystal King, Writer and Marketing Manager
I’d like to share my personal story of diversification, transformation,and innovation as a result of the training I received through the UMass Boston Critical & Creative Thinking Program — one of the very best things that ever happened to me, and that is the truth. As a result of CCT, my life has new direction and focus. I have projects that I am working on that I never dreamed would be mine to take on. I have a bevy of new friends from all walks of life that have enhanced my way of thinking, being and working. And now, I’m even teaching a class at UMass Boston myself.
When the dot.com crash occurred in the late 90s, like others, I found myself out of a job. While I was temping, I thought about what I could do to get out of the rat race of corporate life–I loved the work I was doing in marketing but after being laid off at so many startups I felt jaded. And again, like many others, I decided to head back to school. But what degree should I go after? An MBA would guarantee me a higher salary in any future work that I might do but I just couldn’t get excited about it. For me it’s not about the money; it’s about building upon my talents as a writer (which is the thread throughout any work I do, personal and in business). That was foremost for me. My then soon-to-be-husband was finishing up his M.A. in Education at UMass and had taken many CCT courses. “You would love it!” he raved. And when I looked at the curriculum, I realized it was the perfect solution for my dilemma–building critical and creative thinking skills would be beneficial for both my work as a marketer but also to fuel my desire to publish more poetry and fiction.
Since starting CCT, I have stepped on a path of pure success. I have grown in so many ways and the best part is that I know the most exciting part has yet to come to fruition. As a result of my work in the Critical and Creative Thinking program, I have:
Created and currently edit a successful literary journal, now in its second year: http://www.plumrubyreview.com.
Been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for my poetry and have been published in several literary journals.
Developed a book proposal which is the culmination of my research in creative problem-solving for creative writers. It’s a book of 25 exercises for writers in progress. Each exercise draws upon methods used in the business and science sectors but has been adapted for individual creative writers to use in order to further existing plots, characters and storylines.
My manifesto on Critical & Creative Thinking for Managers was published by ChangeThis ( www.changethis.com) and has been referenced by numerous business leaders, including Tom Peters (http://www.tompeters.com)
I’m leading bi-monthly workshops at work on critical thinking and creativity for managers (I handle all the PR for iAnywhere, the mobile software division of database company Sybase).
I began teaching at UMass Boston as an adjunct professor this fall–ACM299 Critical Analysis and Business Communication, which is a perfect match for my experience in business marketing and my learnings in CCT.
I became a monthly mobile marketing columnist for iMedia Connection (http://www.imediaconnection.com).
I have developed a more steady writing practice and am currently 150 pages into a fiction novel.
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that none of these things would have occurred without going through the CCT program. I changed as a person–I became a problem-solver. I discovered new ways of motivation. Most importantly, I learned how to take better risks, especially creative risks.
One of the best things about the CCT program is that, as a student, you have the extraordinary good fortune to be in the company of other individuals who hail from all different walks of life. They’re not all there to land a certain kind of job when they graduate–say to become a doctor, teacher, artist. Instead, they are doctors, teachers and artists looking to discover new ways to apply critical and creative thinking to the work they are already doing or to find new paths in life toward personal and career fulfillment. It meant that I had the opportunity to draw upon the expertise and experience of all sorts of different people with different points of view. It gave me balance and perspective that I feel so lucky to be able to draw upon–and continue to draw upon.
The faculty of CCT really make the program what it is. In addition to teaching extremely valuable skills in critical and creative thinking, they have an amazing knack for helping students flourish. Nina Greenwald helped me discover and nourish the spark for my book and Peter Taylor helped me develop the way to drive towards it. Ben Schwendener waved his magic wand and next thing I knew I was the creator and editor of a well-received literary journal. Arthur Millman was the force behind my recently published Critical & Creative Thinking Manifesto. Over and over I can point to ways where the faculty helped both myself and my peers to stretch and reach their full potential.
Everywhere I go people are impressed when I mention I have my Masters in Critical and Creative Thinking. Employers see it as a huge leg up on the carbon copy MBA students that arrive on their doorstep. I know that it was a big factor in landing my current job, which is one of the best jobs I’ve had. It has made me stand out amongst other job candidates. The title alone seems to scream INNOVATION and yet RESPONSIBILITY as a result of the marriage of two key things that businesses are looking for–creative thinkers and problem-solvers who actively employ smart thinking. I am always asked about it wherever I go. Editors see it in my bio on articles and inquire. Colleagues are impressed. My managers see it as an opportunity for me to teach and share my knowledge internally. It never ceases to amaze me how much that this particular piece of paper has helped me, far more so than I think I would have had with a business degree.
I’m so excited about the future. I’m currently developing other articles on critical thinking in the workplace and creativity building techniques for marketers. I will be submitting my book proposal to agents this fall–it’s currently in review by a major journalist who is helping me on final edits. I am confident that it will be accepted and published due to its novelty and the ability for the exercises to serve a market currently not served by writing books today–the writer in progress. My own writing is going like gangbusters which is extremely exciting. I have friendships and business connections that will last throughout my life. And now I’m able to give back to UMass Boston, by helping share my knowledge to undergrads in the business program–my skills as a writer, my work as a marketer and all of the really wonderful things I’ve learned as a CCT student. ]
Tonya Milbourn, Math Teacher
CCT (the program and the act of) have confirmed what my heart has told me for years. I am a math teacher because I value the way a math curriculum “trains the brain to think.” The CCT program at UMass Boston supports and enhances that idea. Throughout my program of study I gained important new knowledge, experience and strategies for improving my own thinking skills and those of my students.
From my first day of CCT classes, through my capstone experience and continuing in the present, my students have been actively using thinking practices that I learned in the program. For example, I regularly teach by using the “Rule of Four”, an Algebra thinking strategy a CCT classmate of mine developed and shared. The language of thinking, thinking dispositions, and mental mangement, introduced to me through my CCT studies, became the core of my capstone experience. Creative thinking activities, open-ended philosophical questions, and dialogue components have become standard components of my teaching.
The CCT program has enhanced my ability to help others “train their brains to think.” I feel so much better prepared to teach and, as a result, have been bringing about changes in teaching inspired by my CCT training throughout my whole school. I have become the “change agent” the CCT Program trains students to be. In great measure, this has evolved as part of a process of working closely with the CCT faculty and my fellow classmates in learning environments that cultivate reflective thinking, ongoing dialogue and free exchange of ideas in a safe, supportive climate.
I have made three significant decisions in my life. The first was to join my cross-country running team in the 7th grade (running and coaching has become one of my passions). The second was to study abroad in France during my undergraduate studies (travel is another passion). And the third was to enroll in the CCT program (teaching is yet another passion). The high quality of instruction that is modeled in the CCT Program has dramatically influenced me as a teacher and on numerous personal levels as well. This transformational experience has reshaped and redirected my life in exciting ways. I have incorporated the “message and soul” of the CCT program in my classroom, my students, and my life. Anything is possible when you “think” about it.
My gratitude to the CCT faculty and my fellow classmates for this opportunity,
Andrea Brenner-Shaevitz, Design Instructor
I am writing in tremendous support of the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at The University of Massachusetts Boston. I earned this degree in May of 2005. As a graphic designer by profession and as an Assistant Professor of design currently, I felt that the program was an outstanding supplement to take me to the next level of my career. While most creative professionals proceed with a Master of Fine Arts degree, I was more interested in the business side of design and how to nurture these skills. The Critical and Creative Thinking program was an ideal complement to my personal growth both in the classroom and with my freelance business. I was able to learn to use my already strong creative visual skills with a critical and creative component to assist in solving situations where a new direction was needed.
I teach a concept development course for graphic designers. In this class I teach students how to think differently about a problem and how to use their own creative skills to come up with great ideas. The way I teach this course and the lessons learned are a direct result of what I was able to gain through the Critical and Creative Thinking program. Additionally I use the book “A Whack on the Side of the Head” as a textbook. This book was suggested and shown during my Creative Thinking class and now has a permanent space on my shelf.
Personally I structured my elective courses to focus on interpersonal skills with such courses as Negotiation, Dialogue, Cognitive Psychology and Creative Thinking, Collaboration and Organizational Change. I was extremely interested in learning how to relate to people more effectively. Learning how to think differently about a problem, open ones mind up to new ways to approach a situation is an essential skill to success in the corporate world. While I was not only interested in this personally, I also felt it was essential for graphic design students to learn. Designing is more than just the design, but also the interaction with the client to allow them to understand where solutions come from. The interpersonal courses I took propelled me to write my thesis on this very subject and how graphic designers and design educators can incorporate these skills into the classroom. I am currently doing this today and ironically the trend in design is taking on a business twist. These skills will be an essential part of the future of graphic design and I feel that I am able to influence the way design is taught with this newfound appreciation and knowledge.
I highly encourage you to take a great interest into this program. While it may appear to be obscure to those who hear the name, honestly the skills that are learned are used in every profession. It takes awareness to understand this. The Critical and Creative Thinking program makes a person aware and influences them to actively apply these skills in work and life!
Pat Scannell, College Writing Instructor
I went to the CCT program to take couple of courses. As an English and theatre teacher, I was I was interested in learning how to help my students become more creative and to strengthen their critical thinking skills. I am a lifelong learner, but as a public school teacher I was required to take courses in order to maintain my certification. I had a master’s degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College. I was at the top of the Westford Public Schools salary schedule. A second master’s degree would not increase my income.
When I took my first CCT course, my focus was on my students. I used what I learned to improve my approach to the courses that I taught. My final projects were lessons plans in which I applied critical thinking principles to the teaching of English and theatre. I began to make a specific thinking skill the objective of a lesson, rather than assuming that my students would learn about thinking while the main objective of a class was subject matter.
Soon, however, the CCT activities were causing me to do some powerful personal reflection. Suddenly I was questioning my thinking. I was beginning to see myself as creative. I started taking risks that I had not taken before. At this point, I began to explore final course projects that related to my personal life, rather than to my professional life. I was beginning to realize that if I become a stronger thinker and a more creative person, it would rub off on my students. By this time, I was hooked on the CCT program. I was no longer content to take one or two courses. I decided to complete the whole program: the Master’s Degree in Critical and Creative Thinking. Once a week, after a long day of teaching, I drove to downtown Boston from Nashua, New Hampshire. I was nourished by the intellectual and spiritual community at CCT. At the end of the program, I did not do a synthesis project related to high school curriculum work. Instead, I traced my development as a writer from childhood to present.
In the CCT program I had powerful mentors. After several courses with Delores Gallo, I felt creative and empowered. I was becoming much more open. I was convinced of my own creativity and was exploring creative areas I had only thought about in the past. I began writing poetry for the first time in my life. From Nina Greenwald, I learned even more about creativity, especially about the powerful connection between humor and creativity. In Larry Blum’s Anti-racist and Multicultural Education course, I became more comfortable talking about race, not only at UMass, but with my students in a predominantly white suburb. Besides these wonderful instructors, I learned much from the other students in my classes: teachers, artists, business people, scholars. All these people contributed to the stimulating learning community at CCT.
The CCT program changed me both professionally and personally. While in the program, I had grown disillusioned with public school teaching. I wanted to make a career change, but I was seduced by my current salary and the future security of the state retirement system. I remained passive and unsatisfied. Throughout all the journaling I did for CCT courses (Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Decision Making), I realized that I was unhappy. My work was eating up my life, but it did not fulfill me. I had to make a change. Thanks to my participation in the CCT program, I had the courage to leave my public school position and venture forth into the unknown. I wanted to have more free time. I wanted to teach part time and explore my own hobbies and interests: writing, skiing, travel. I wanted to teach college writing, but I thought that doing so would require an advanced degree in writing or rhetoric. I was wrong. Whenever I interviewed for a position, the department head was impressed by the CCT degree. I was always hired because my CCT degree was seen as an asset, as meeting a need of the institution. I discovered that employers love the CCT degree. So…in my new life I taught college writing and reading; I became an instructor and site coordinator of a high school diploma program for adults who work in industry. I taught ESL English. I worked in two college writing centers. Wherever, I went, I introduced my students to metacognition, and to reading and writing as active processes that are forms of thinking. In one of my college positions, I was asked to develop a writing course based on the theme of creativity. This was a dream come true – to directly teach students what I had learned about creativity at CCT…to help them feel more creative. Some of those students were future teachers. In my class they presented research projects on creative ways to teach Spanish and math and early childhood education. My students drew from the sources I had learned about at CCT. We used some of the same course texts. As a result of my development of this creativity/writing course, I earned accolades from the college English department, the writing center, and my students. Most important of all, this experience caused me to understand my role in the generative phase of life. Now is the time when I am able to spread my wisdom to a new generation of teachers, who will, in turn, spread their wisdom to the next. This is a profound responsibility and one that makes me feel happy and proud. I would never have reached this realization without having been part of the CCT program.
There’s more to my story, but I’ll end here. When I went to the Critical and Creative Thinking Program, I had no idea it would change my life. Now, ten years later, I am happier, more open, more creative, and more convinced of my own power. For this, I thank the CCT program. At present I am excited to hear about a new CCT alumni group that will meet regularly. Attending a recent CCT open house has rekindled my passion for this wonderful program. As Nina Greenwald said, “It’s a cold world out there.” The world of CCT is different. When we change as individuals, we have the potential of changing the world. For this reason, I hope the CCT program will always exist.
Meghann McNiff, Maternal Public Health
When I came to the CCT program I was a Lieutenant in the Air Force. I was unhappy and unfulfilled in this career field. I knew I wanted a change, but wasn’t sure what. I thought I wanted to volunteer in the Peace Corps, but didn’t know why. Through many reflective exercises and by participating in the creative process I came to understand that a career in public health was the right fit for me. I am now training in this field at the Boston University School of Public Health.
In the larger sense, I believe the CCT program helped me to find and begin fulfilling my purpose in life. In the smaller sense, CCT practices are useful and beneficial habits of my everyday life. For example, while a classmate was giving a speech I employed my CCT practice of writing him personal feedback. He replied, “that is a great habit.” By popular demand, the entire class will be adopting this practice!
I am forever grateful to the CCT program and, thankfully, forever changed by the CCT process.
Nancy Sullivan, International Baccalaureate Teacher
In the mid-1980’s, my department head put a brochure in my mailbox. It was a flyer introducing a program at UMass Boston and, as he knew that I spent the summer in Massachusetts, he thought it might be something I’d be interested in. I’d been looking around at graduate programs for years. I was not interested in a masters in Education and, although I’d taught English for many years, I hadn’t found a masters in English that really thrilled me. That summer; I think it was 1986, I took the Critical Thinking course with MaryAnne Wolfe and Wanda Tays. I knew, right from the start, that the course, the people and the teachers were something special. I found myself surrounded by passionate, interesting, energetic people who cared about thinking and cared about teaching. I learned so much and had such a fantastic experience that summer that I returned for a course each summer for the next few years. During those wonderful summers I also attended the one day symposiums that were run by the CCT program. Delores Gallo and Pat Davidson invited Howard Gardner who spoke about multiple intelligences and Ted Sizer who spoke about Essential Schools. Wow! There were also many wonderful educators from the Boston area who led sessions in various aspects of critical and creative thinking. It was at one of these gatherings that I had the pleasure of sitting in on Nina Greenwald’s provocative and instructive session on humor. There were other enriching sessions and those days are among my most treasured memories of the CCT program.
In 1991, I was granted a sabbatical by my school system to finish the course work for my masters in Critical Thinking. During that year I was lucky enough to take several courses with Delores Gallo and I was Nina Greenwald and Steve Swartz’s graduate assistant in their creativity course. I have so many wonderful memories of CCT that I could go on and on.
CCT has impacted my life in so many ways. As I was taking the courses, I knew that the material and all my new insights would inform my teaching. I knew that I’d never be the same teacher I’d been before CCT. I just didn’t have any idea of how valuable and important this program would be to me until I returned to my regular teaching job.
When I returned to Montgomery County, Maryland, I began teaching in an IB school – a school that offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The core course in the program is called the Theory of Knowledge. TOK asks students to consider what they know and how they know it. They consider the question of certainty in what they claim to know – in science, math, history, ethics, etc. Among other things, they learn to examine and evaluate the sources of their knowledge and they learn the strengths and potential weaknesses of these sources.
TOk is a course in critical thinking, and it is now my passion. I am an examiner for the International Baccalaureate Organization. This past spring I was one of eleven people from around the world who met in Cardiff, Wales to award grades in TOK to the thousands of students who took the course. I am also a workshop leader for the IBO. This year I will train teachers how to teach TOk at conferences in Vancouver, BC, Halifax, NS and Niagara Falls, Ontario. I have also led workshops at the United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico and in Falls Church, Virginia.
I am so grateful for the CCT program. I would never have been hired to teach TOK without my degree. So often in class we talked about serendipity and the power of the “happy accident.” The day my department head threw that flier into my mailbox because I was the only person in the school from Massachusetts was one of the luckiest days of my life.
I enjoyed our recent reunion and am thrilled to find the CCT program alive and well at UMass Boston!
Changes in Lives and Careers, 2000
The following responses were received to this 9/10/00 email request: “To update the fact sheet used in publicity, we’d be grateful if you can provide examples regarding the changes in lives and careers that have followed your CCT studies.”
Barbara S. Waters, Environmental Educator
“When I enrolled in the first CCT courses in 1986 I had no idea of the tremendous change it would make in my own learning and eventually to my science teaching.
My peak experience was to be recognized by my peers in 1993 and receive the Massachusetts Cultural Council Commonwealth Award at the State House for Interpretive Science [I shared the award with Dr. Steven Jay Gould of Harvard]. At the ceremony I gave full credit to the CCT Program for the award and received congratulatory letters from Dean Chistine Armett-Kibel and w Louis Esposito, Provost, with copies sent to Sherry Penney, Fuad Safwat, and Patricia Davidson.
How did I get to a position of recognition? I did not ask for it, I saw a role for my particular experience, knowledge and mission. Upon completing the CCT program in 1989, I was determined to bring the research in cognitive learning to the level of teachers. I chose the vehicle of science education because that is my field. My thesis became the Watershed to Bay:A Raindrop Journey curriculum and Watershed Education Teaching [W.E.T.] Kit published by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
I applied theory and strategies learned during my years with the Critical and Creative Thinking Program to my professional work in environmental education. My first priority was and still is to integrate CCT into my field. The next task was to convince institutions and people to support my ideas and projects. This required presentation of ideas that furthered both their mission and my goals. It also means raising funds in a competitive environment. With my confidence gained at CCT, collaborating with others in the last five years, our team has presented in depth watershed education programs to 561 teachers and nonprofit educators.
In addition, I designed graduate courses, based on my CCT research, then connected with institutions such as Bridgewater State College, Salem State College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to get credits and funding. Our team of instructors implemented twelve courses with more to come. To date we have influenced over 1500 teachers to change how they view and teach science. Without the CCT Program these teachers would not have been reached.
Through the Critical and Creative Thinking Program I gained confidence in my own creativity and abilities to carry out a mission of educational change. I’ve guided many potential applicants to the CCT Program and watched as they made a real difference in their own fields of science, art, business and other fields. I do not believe that there is any other such program in the region. CCT is a program that breaks new ground and may even be ahead of its time. I hope the “powers that be” look for ways to allow CCT to continue its vital work and not let this center of innovation and inspiration diminish.”
Christina Cawthon, Elementary Teacher
Since I completed my degree. I have resigned from the Palm Beach School Board to teach first grade at an exclusive private school, American Heritage School (ahschool.com). I have gone from 30 students (minimum) with very little assistance to 19 students with a full time assistant. Plus, my son will begin PreK next year for free! Since I finished my degree I’ve had the confidence and qualifications to venture out from a secure teaching position to a job that is emotionally less draining and have time to truly integrate and teach critical and creative thinking.
David Zwicker, Non-violent Self-defense
I am currently working for a consulting co. that does customer retention and loyalty consulting/training/research and teaching CT at Mass Bay Community College.
Eileen Page, Handwriting Consultant
Since I have graduated from the CCT program in Dec. 93, much has happened and I believe that my personal and professional experiences at U Mass have been directly responsible. In June of ’96 I ended a 20 year elementary reading career to become a full time self-employed Handwriting Consultant. Areas of specialization include handwriting instruction, diagnostics and examination of anonymous letters and questioned documents. My critical and creative thinking skills have led me to develop 3-credit graduate level courses which are offered to other educators. I also provide in-service programs to schools and lecture internationally to other handwriting experts. My thesis entitled, “Exploring Graphokinesics Critically and Creatively” has been published and in a couple of weeks I will have a another book published entitled, “A Humanistic Approach to Penmanship.”
Elisa J Beildeck, Middle School Theater & Media Arts Teacher
Elisa Beildeck – currently theatre arts teacher at Taft middle school , BPS. Critical thinking in the media curriculum was highlighted in a documentary to be aired on the Discovery Channel and throughout all Maryland schools. Also, received a scholarship by the English Speaking Union for Shakespeare unit. Scholarship enabled me to study Shakespeare at the Globe theatre in London. Also, offered an adjunct position at Mass Bay community college in Wellesly to teach Critical thinking.
Marie Kennerson, Strategic Business Development
I could write about ways that CCT has impacted my life all day. The profound personal learning, the education and perspective have enabled me to be a pioneer in integrating leadership & organizational development with business results. I was a business person who joined the program in order to gain the credentials “to foster creativity, diversity and global perspective” in the workplace. My studies and relationships at CCT led me to Peter Senge at MIT and on to become an independent consultant and speaker focused on building Learning Organizations. I eventually refocused my attention on the integration of critical and creative thinking, emotional intelligence, whole systems design with practical business process redesign and generation of shared standards and results. (Traditional business or management consulting with organizational development/change management training)
Most recently, I have accepted a position at IDG Communications in San Francisco ( www.idg.com or www.idg.net) as the “Vice President of Big Ideas” or Strategic Business Development in some circles! It is a position where I can use all that I have learned and embodied to innovative generate results. I will be responsible for assessing the various business units, product/service offerings and all the marketing demographics to determine what opportunities exist for doing things in new and innovative ways. I will be at liberty to define the role and projects that will best contribute to revenues and future strategies. IDG’s mission is to provide information on Information Technology to various target audiences worldwide through: magazines including the new Darwin, CIO, Industry Standard, InfoWorld, Computer World, PC World, Network World, etc.; IDC-the research company; book publishing (Dummies, Frommer’s, Cliffnotes); Conferences, events, and training; and many websites (including HungryMinds for Online Publishing).
I see lots of opportunities to foster the creation of knowledge and new ways of marketing emphasizing networks of relationship and the synthesis and evolution of information systems, business systems and human systems to generate learning and revenues. However, this opportunity is more about “doing” than “talking about”.
It is my background at CCT that gives me the perspective to be able to do such a job and the willingness of the President of my company to create this “out of the box” position. We are confident it will manifest in lots of “results.”
Peter Galeno, Community College Writing Professor
Over the past two years, I have taken a leadership role in the devlopment of a college composition textbook titled “Take Charge of Your Writing: Discovering Writing Through Self-Assessment.” As the title suggests, the underlying theory of the text is grounded in the priniples of critical thinking. We view the text as a bridge to help students become more independent in their writing and thinking about their writing.
The text will be published by Houghton Mifflin and is scheduled to be released this month (book-bound copies on 9-22).
Although I worked with three of my co-workers on the development of the book, the primary concept of the text, that students need to devlop the ability to assess their own writing in order to become life-long learners, is directly related to the work I did on my CCT thesis, “A Portfolio Model for Teaching Writing and Thinking.”
Jane C. Lueders, International Baccalaureate Teacher
Jane Lueders moved overseas to Istanbul, TURKEY to teach fifth grade after finishing her CCT degree in 1992. She has become involved in implementing the International Baccalaureate Organisation’s Primary Years Programme (IBO PYP). Last year she was chosen from several hundred applicants to work on creating the Science and Technology Curriculum that will be used by all of the IBO PYP schools worldwide.
Harriet Griffin, Literacy Coordinator
Late as usual, but I’ve been busy as usual… I have just started as a Literacy Coordinator for an elementary school in Medford under a two-year John Silber Grant. I’ll be modelling literacy lessons in the classrooms, leading workshops for teachers and parents, and coordinating other literacy projects in the building. Of course, it’s my CCT background that gave me the confidence to take on this awesome task! Hope all is well.
Capsule summaries, c. 1997
Twenty-two recent graduates and three advanced students have found new opportunities to apply critical and creative thinking in a non-traditional educational setting. Some are developing curricula for such organizations as the New England Aquarium, WGBH-TV, and the Gardner and Peabody Museums. Others are in industry, representing fields as diverse as nursing care reform and corporate training, and are involved in such activities as developing curricula on computer mediated communications and conducting assessments of arts programs. While most are working in Massachusetts CCT students have found employment opportunities in Israel, Turkey, Japan, and Germany.
Eleven recent graduates and seven advanced students are involved in teaching or counseling in higher education.
Nine recent graduates and two advanced students have taken on new challenges in teaching or counseling in schools.
Twenty-two recent graduates are either currently enrolled in doctoral programs, or have completed them. Some of the institutions they have gone on to include Harvard, Boston College, Brown, Columbia, Rutgers, University of Nebraska, University of Iowa, University of Illinois. and University of California-Los Angeles.
Nearly one hundred students have received the Master’s degree since the program began in 1979. [Over 200 as of Oct. 2000] Several of this group have published books, monographs, curricula, and poetry. Numerous graduates have won awards for outstanding teaching. Other prestigious awards to CCT alumni include the Commonwealth Award in the category of Interpretive Science, a Jesse Unruh Assembly Fellowship with the California Assembly, and the Middlesex League Wrestling Coach of the Year award.
Extracts from testimonial letters, Fall 1995
Jeanne Abrons, Creativity and Social Cognition Researcher
I am an Adjunct Instructor of logic whose former students return to say that the skills they acquired in our community of thinkers and its student centered multiple strength approach to learning have aided them in other courses, in family life, and in their places of employment. I have applied thinking skills as a resource parent helping families seek medical and educational services for their children with special needs, emphasizing nonadversarial approaches to interacting with service providers. I have utilized thinking skills as a member of the Federation for Children with Special Needs’ Board of Directors, and have been honored with their first Friends of the Federation award. These are the tangible qualitative results of a CCT experience. about the average in statistics. I am an Adjunct Instructor of logic whose former students return to say that the skills they acquired in our community of thinkers and its student centered multiple strength approach to learning have aided them in other courses, in family life, and in their places of employment. I have applied thinking skills as a resource parent helping families seek medical and educational services for their children with special needs, emphasizing nonadversarial approaches to interacting with service providers. I have utilized thinking skills as a member of the Federation for Children with Special Needs’ Board of Directors, and have been honored with their first Friends of the Federation award. These are the tangible qualitative results of a CCT experience.
It is my sincere belief that the Critical and Creative program is focused in the right direction. They are interested in providing the best preparation to students who are teachers or those who aspire to be teachers. They provide students with challenges and experiences that are offered nowhere else in a college curriculum.
Leor Alcalay, Community College Professor
My CCT experience has not only enriched me personally in intellectual and academic ways, however. Far more importantly, it has enabled me to enrich the educational experience of many, many others. At Quincy college (where I am in my eighth year, and am proud to say that I have finally attained full-time, tenured status), I have been instrumental in infusing critical and creative thinking into the curriculum. A course I designed, ‘critical thinking for academic development’, serves as the capstone transitional course of the academic support center, and facilitates long-term academic achievement for many of our academically under-prepared native-English-speaking as well as non-native-English speaking (ESL) students.
Deborah Allen, Science Teacher
My work in the Critical and Creative thinking program was demanding and rigorous. It forced me to examine what science I teach and how I teach it, as well as the nature of scientific inquiry. In addition, I learned how to develop the skills of thinking both critically and creatively in my students and myself. These skills are exactly the higher order thinking and problem solving skills that are so lacking in many students today. During my time in the program, I rewrote over fifty percent of my curriculum to reflect the integration of critical and creative thinking and problem solving into life science activities. Without the guidance of the full and part time professors in the critical and creative thinking program, I would not have been able to do this valuable work.
Patricia Artis, Teacher
As a public school teacher, I had delayed applying to local graduate schools, looking for a program that would fit my needs. No other local university provided such a profoundly important. The experience of the CCT program also affected me in a deep and personal way. I questioned my own thinking style and abilities. The effect of the CCT program upon me, as a learner, has been profound.
Mumtaz Badshah, International Education in India
I have invested two years in researching the area of Thinking Skill in India. Having heard about this unique program and met with the faculty, I decided to enroll into the Masters program. Because of the encouragement I received from the students and the faculty of the CCT program, I have been empowered to start a Non Government Organization in order to initiate and implement projects for the development of education internationally. The philosophy and vision of the CCT program is the necessary ingredient of educational reform all over the world.
Carol Beal, Principal Performance Consultant
The mentoring from CCT continues to inspire the way I work with colleagues around Illinois in my work as a quality review specialist for the Illinois State Board of Education.
The CCT program being a student centered learning environment provided its students with the rare opportunity for interdisciplinary fellowship and scholarship. The CCT program provided a framework that supported inquiry into the knowledge domain itself.
The CCT Program was destined to provide me with the balance of structure and freedom I needed to reach my potential. What is referred to as “tacit knowledge” is what I have learned to recognize in the CCT Program as a form of unconscious common sense that can be brought to consciousness and used to one’s advantage. I know that I have benefited from my experience here. I have developed the skills and confidence to create work for my self that is both personally rewarding and highly paid.
Constance Borab, Teacher of African American Literature
I have been actively looking for a program that would not only allow the combining of the creative and critical but would encourage it. In my recent efforts doing graduate level work at Northeastern University in the NEH African American Literature Institute, I have been asked to write a chapter for a text to be published on the Teaching of African American Literature. The work that I did for the institute was thought to be cutting edge as I combined theory, experience, the creative and the critical. The CCT program addresses all of these aspects to learning and presents a life and teaching altering experience for those who take it.
Katherine M. Borton
With an undergraduate degree in dance, I am interested in using the arts to promote critical and creative thinking in the educational system. I chose this program over other Masters programs including the Harvard Masters in Education program, because I felt its commitment to enhancing critical and creative thinking in areas outside of education would give me the chance to focus on thinking skills without being restrained by the field of education.
Susan Butler, Photography Professor & Author
They introduced me to teaching and learning strategies which I have incorporated into my own teaching. (I teach photography at Pine Manor College). They provided me with a valuable model of innovative teaching strategies, which, as a member of Pine Manor’s Curriculum Committee and Planning Committee, I now find myself in a position to share with other faculty and administrators as the college reevaluates its pedagogical mission. They encouraged me to expand my own creative arena. As a direct result of the process initiated in these courses, I turned my hand to writing. On the basis of the first 50 pages, I signed a contract with Orchard Books.
Jennifer Chidsey, University-School Partnerships Director
I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Science Education at the University of Iowa. Preparing for presentations at national conferences and papers submitted for publication, as well as participating in classes and discussions with others in my profession have confirmed how much my background in Critical and Creative Thinking has benefited my current work. I have conducted research on conceptual change, alternative assessment strategies and am currently working with using children’s literature as a vehicle to teach science at the elementary level. I am convinced that my two years at UMass, Boston in the CCT program were instrumental to shaping my understanding of a broad base of issues that relate to all aspects of education. There is a genuine spirit of commitment to ideals, expectations for thinking and thoughtfulness, and an underlying belief that makes you realize that you do have something to offer and that your goals are attainable. What I have learned from the CCT program is very valuable to me and is something that I hope to be able to share with my current and future students.
Mark J. Connerty
I can attest to the high level of scholarship and creativity that the program engenders in its faculty and student body. This is my first semester in the CCT program. Already it has changed the way I think about and relate to the world around me.
Ellen Connors, Massage Therapist (former tugboat captain)
Because of my impending Master’s degree in CCT, along with my work history, I have been asked to interview for a position as Project Coordinator for a School to Work Collaborative. I am currently a Captain of a tug boat working on the Boston Harbor Clean up Project. I also have a B.S. in Chemistry from U Mass Lowell. CCT provided a vehicle for me to synthesize my broad experiences in education and industry. There is no other program in the country that provides the interdisciplinary opportunities available in CCT.
Peggy Cronin, Writing and Teaching Consultant
My background is in teaching college English and writing across the curriculum. An education degree would not have been appropriate to either my scholarship or career path. I chose UMass specifically for the CCT program because it is a cross-disciplinary community of inquiry that honors the multiple intelligences and varied learning styles of its students. Three years ago, I turned down a fellowship in the English PhD program at Tufts because I felt the stimulating, humane, and learner-centered character of the CCT program would serve me better. I made the right choice.
In the time of excruciatingly narrow professional specialities I believe CCT fosters the broader view that so many see as lacking from our educational system, business environment, and government. Critical and Creative Thinking is training people to allow themselves to take up leadership roles in their particular areas of professional interest and to cross-pollinate the artificial division that have grown in the academic and business communities.
From what has been explained to me, and from the information I have obtained directly from the Program, I believe that the CCT program has provided – and should continue to provide – just what students, families, institutions, and businesses need. The interdisciplinary nature of the program enables it to maintain an intellectual integrity which draws upon the expertise of a number of established fields: education, philosophy, science, mathematics, the arts, psychology, and others. It has graduated students who have learned how to function as critical thinkers in a variety of sectors, including education, business, public policy, the arts, research and others. CCT graduates who have gone into or continued in the teaching field have emerged from the program transformed by their experiences, and able to make education more meaningful to their students.
Derek Engquist, Teacher
I have had many great classes with many great professors. The classes I have taken in creative thinking has had a greater positive impact on my scholarship, my writing and my personal life than virtually all of the other classes I have taken in my academic career. Please do no take this complement lightly. I have had some truly extraordinary professors. I am in my first semester of the Masters in Education program here at UMass Boston. I can only speak from personal experience about the level of instruction in the creative thinking class.
Petra Farias, Athletic Coach
It has taken me years to find the ‘right’ program to suit my intellectual and professional interest. The student-centered approach to learning creates an enriching and supportive community of inquiry. Never before have I been in an educational setting offering genuine fellowship and continuous opportunities for personal and professional growth. Being a part of the CCT program has benefited me immeasurably-as a learner, a teacher, and a professional athletic coach.
The unique, student-centered methodology allows for complete integration of the academic experience with one’s occupational pursuit, regardless of the nature of that pursuit. My personal experience in the CCT program has not only benefited me, it has helped literally hundreds of people with whom I work. They have learned a creative thinking approach to problem solving and a critical thinking approach to implementation plans.
Michael Flanagan, High School Science Teacher
For me one of the most purposeful aspects of the program was a personal improvement in thinking, problem solving, and discussion making. Another was an immediate up-grading of my science curriculum at Dedham High School.
Patricia Germain, College Skills Teacher
CCT is rare gem within the university; its value understated primarily due to the inability to measure its worth by traditional means. I treasure my experience in CCT. Daily, I call on insights gained through my exposure to faculty and students associated with the program. To say CCT has had an impact on my life does not convey the extraordinary proficiency I have gained through an awareness of magnified thinking skills, increased decision making ability, understanding of relationships with others, that have marked every aspect of my life. It is the spirit of creative thought that enriches the CCT program and permeates the academic, professional and personal lives it touches. plan to seek funding to develop and implement a community-based literacy program
I decided that the CCT Program at UMass, Boston, was the best place for me tocontinue my education in the area of writing philosophical novel for children. I applied, got an assistantship and a master’s, and admission to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, were I have received my doctorate. During the course of my graduate work, I have discovered an unsuspected cognitive brain processing operation, which is now leading to new insights into the fields of cognitive neuropsychology, complexity theory and literacy. I hope that it will soon lead to new diagnostic and remediative techniques for the understanding of attention-based memory dysfunctions, such as ADD, ADHT, Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS dementia, and others, as well.
Christine Jacques, Community College Instructor
For the past five years I have been teaching writing, college reading, and study skills classes at Cape Cod Community College because of my involvement in the CCT program, which is highly regarded by my colleagues and the academic community. CCT puts theory into practice; it models what it espouses: the Critical and Creative Thinking Program is thinking in action.
Katherine Kittredge, Physics Teacher Leader
I am a NSF-sponsored New England Physics Teaching Resource Agent; as such, I teach science teachers throughout New England. In this position, I work some of the most gifted high-school educators to be found. Few other programs promote quality education with such meaning, complexity, and understanding of real-life considerations. I cannot stress enough how CCT has helped me to develop my teaching skills, my own creativity, and my ability to encourage the highest level of thinking possible from my students. I teach Physique and Applied Physics at Minuteman Regional Vo-Tech High School and Adult Career Center.
I have just returned to the Boston area this fall after completing my doctoral degree at Ruprecht-Karls-Universitit in Heidelberg, Germany. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to complete this program. And I would without hesitation label it the best learning experience I ever had. The training I received in the CCT classes and through my thesis writing was an excellent foundation to build on in my doctoral research.
John Landis, School Library Media Specialist
The program not only helps teachers to develop new and exiting approaches for their classroom, but also equips them to lead educational reform efforts. While I am one year away from certification as a school library media specialist, I am confident that I am already well equipped with the basic qualities that will ensure my success as an educator.
I am working on my thesis which defines visual documentation and representation of Italo-American female creativity. The Critical and Creative Thinking program articulates and refines various knowledge and skills that include cooperative learning and inter-disciplinary/thematic instructional approaches while enhancing one’s ability towards a better understanding of what is meant by personal self-growth in relationship to one’s self and in acommunity environment.
Mona Liblanc, Trainer, State Government
As a professional employee of the Commonwealth for almost 15 years, I have discovered that the skills and insight I am acquiring in the CCT program are far more valuable than the fact I was fed in the many continuing education courses I have taken. Being more creative and productive in my work projects positively both on my professionalism and that of my agency.
Karen Litzinger, Elementary Teacher
I am an elementary school teacher who continues to benefit from my CCT experiences. I apply many attributes in my everyday and professional life (with colleagues and my students) that I learned throughout the program. I continue to relate my experiences from UMass Boston’s CCT program to my everyday life. The impact of the CCT program has been powerful.
Louise Loomis, New England Cognitive Center
The Boston program is a source of knowledge and encouragement for me. The Hartford Critical/Creative Thinking Center is not-for-profit educational and consulting organization that specializes in helping people learn how to effectively use their most valuable resource: their brain. The Thinking Center was founded in 1989 as a means of addressing the need for creative and critical thinking in school, businesses and for individuals. We draw on the resources of experts in critical and creative thinking, and specialists in education, business, and human services to provide workshops, seminars, and individual consultations for the general public based on the current knowledge in the field.
Patricia Manley, Elementary Teacher
The CCT program not only is unique in its approach and areas of study but more challenging and rigorous than most programs many of my colleagues have gone through. Including those who have attended private, so-called “prestigiousî institutions. In the program each student is welcomed into a community of inquiry in which learning, understanding, exploring, and academic rigor are encouraged and expected. The demands and standards of the program are high and the willingness of faculty to help each student succeed is beyond any I have encountered in other institution of higher learning.
The academic experience at UMass Boston from 1991-1994 as a graduate student truly transformed me as a learner, as an educator and as a human being. The CCT program is a tool for transformation vital to the re-formation of education.
Michael McKinley, Telecommunications Worker
We are currently participants in the course “Critical and Creative Thinking” (CCT697) that is being conducted as a joint venture between the Network Interconnections (NET-I) Group at NYNEX Corporation and the University. Individually, we have learned valuable lessons in how we each think, what forms our opinions and values and the effects our mental models have upon our interaction with others. As a class, we are exploring systems thinking, scenario planning, shared vision and team learning. As the practical value of each of these concepts becomes clearer, we are able to apply these disciplines, knowledges and skills in our personal and corporate lives.
Margaret McPartland, Adult Literacy Teacher
I have also noticed a change in my own teaching practices since I joined the CCT program. I teach adult literacy and GED classes at Jackson Mann School and Roxbury Community College in Boston. Last year, I wrote and received a grant to design a science curriculum that incorporated critical and creative thinking. Last week, I wrote a grant in which our staff at Jackson Mann proposes to the topic of ethics. I would never have dreamed of taking on such a formidable task if I had not enrolled in this program.
Director, Federal TRIO Program. Through CCT, I have been moved beyond a mindset that focused solely on classroom content. I have learned to foster these skills in others. The results, in the way of program and staff development in the college-based programs that I manage, have been compelling. CCT thesis exercise has helped me to refine the art of writing for the community of scholars-something that perhaps would not have come to be in an ordinary old MED program, and something that I look forward to using as I approach my doctorate dissertation.
Ann Murray, Learning and Teaching Skills Educator
What I learned at UMass, Boston (1) has enabled me to develop numerous workshops and courses in the areas of thinking skills, learning styles, multiple intelligence, and cultural diversity which I have presented at national conferences and in school districts throughout the United State (resulting in annual earnings exceeding $60 000.); (2) was instrumental in my recently receiving a faculty appointment to Salem State College; and (3) has formed the basis of several articles which I have had published by the Mass. Reading Association, the Mass. Title One Dissemination Project, the Mass. Staff Development Council, and the Mass. Association of Teacher Educators. As an educator, I feel that the Critical and Creative Thinking Program is more relevant now than ever in the light of recent Mass. Educational Reform legislation.
Arlene Nichols, Museums Institute for Teaching Science
Program Director Museums Institute for Teaching Science. As a practicing scientist and later as a science educator, nothing in my earlier education including earning a Master’s in curriculum development had taught me to think clearly. Because the program encouraged application to one’s work, I was able to hone and extend my improved thinking skills into my curriculum improvement and into professional development workshops I did as a science education consultant. The program is unique in many ways. Because it attracted students from many disciplines, diverse cultural backgrounds and a broad age spectrum, it expands all of the participants. The faculty are superb and supportive of our individual need.
I have used the methodology taught to me in this program with my interactions with Harvard students on a regular basis, as well as in my personal life. My time spent obtaining my degree was enlightening and rewarding. The Critical and Creative Thinking department, the curriculum and especially the faculty and staff were very impressive representative of a first class institution.
Jane Rando, Small Business Owner
I have begun my own small business and am increasingly involved in my artwork, something which I had left behind in the crush of family and career. CCThelped me to give more practical definition to my personal skills. The combination of creative thought process and critical process awareness which CCT offers cannot be duplicated in other disciplines.
I finished the certificate program last year — one of my papers was published in The Arithmetic Teacher and I have gone on to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching mathematics.
Nancy Rawlings, Teacher
This semester I have become so involved in John Murray and Arthur Millman’s course in critical thinking, that I have invited my principal, Nanzetta Merriman, and Newton superintendent Irwin Blumer to observe lessons I have developed based on concepts and strategies learned in class. In my Curriculum Night presentation to parents, I described and boasted about the profound effects my CCT courses had on my children in my class. As the school year has gone on, I have received only positive feedback from these parents, my colleagues, and my students.
Jane Robbins, Higher Education Management Consultant
The Critical and Creative Thinking program is unique, and offers UMass/Boston a rare opportunity to develop a special area of recognition in a field of growing visibility and importance. When I entered, I was 42 years old, and had owned my own international consulting firm for over 12 years. I was a published author, well-established in my field, and financially well off. My choice of the CCT program was based on the quality and diversity of the curriculum and teaching methods ñ a combination I could not find at Harvard or anywhere else. For someone like me ñ a full-fledged professional with a clear view of why she is seeking a degree ñ there is no substitute for a program like Critical and Creative Thinking. The CCT program is remarkable in that it motivates students to produce, to make a contribution to thinking and to society. It motivated me to write a book on reforming management education, a book for which I obtained a contract from a scholarly book publisher on the basis of my thesis. It motivated one of my classmates to develop an important health care model, which is being applied at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Patricia Scannell, College Writing Instructor
Two years ago when I was on sabbatical, I planned to take one or two courses in the CCT program. After doing so, I realized that they were some of the best classes I had ever taken in my life. Now three years later I am only two courses and a thesis away from a second M.A. The CCT courses have definitely made me a better teacher, but they have also improved the quality of my life. These courses more than any others have taught me what learning is all about. At the end of each class I feel that I am only at the beginning of my exploration of the subject. Because of the CCT program I have become a better thinker, reader, and writer. I feel blessed to have discovered this wonderful program.
Patricia Schell, Gerontology Educator (retired)
The creative and critical skills I acquired thus far are helpful to me as a member of the Council on Aging in the Town of Hull and to me as an active member of the Senior Center. I am impressed by the caliber of my classmates, many of whom are teachers in various school systems. Their accounts of how they utilize their CCT learning in the classroom show the importance of the program. The value of passing on creative and critical thinking skills to future generations is immeasurable.
Marie Schleiff, High School Teacher
When considering my decision to request a sabbatical leave of absence, I spent months looking for a worthwhile program since I had completed a Masters degree program in English and had been teaching for twenty-five years. Instead of enrolling in a writing program at Northeastern University as I had previously planned, I chose the CCT Program at U. Mass ñ Boston. The uniqueness of this program, its value to a veteran teacher, and the community of inquiry it has established made its worth immediately apparent to me. Upon presenting the description of the CCT program to the school committee at Cohasset High School, I was granted the sabbatical leave by a unanimous vote for two reasons. The committee recognized its worth in training teachers to prepare students to live and work in the twenty-first century which promises to be a time of rapid change demanding high order thinking skills to solve complex problems. Second, the program offered a degree which assured them of the level of scholarship required.
Jennifer Simmons, Elementary Teacher
I was looking for something relevant and interesting, and the Critical and Creative Thinking Program was both. One of the things I liked most about the program was the variety of people enrolled. I think this variety of people and experiences enriched my education. I would not have found such richness in an education program. There is also a camaraderie among faculty and students. Everyone was excited to be involved and anxious to help and learn from each other. The faculty members I worked with were challenging and caring. It is good for a teacher, like me, to continue to be a student, and the CCT faculty demonstrated the art and science of extraordinary teaching.
Anne Marie Stanton
CCT fills a void left by strict, concentrated subjects that do not acknowledge the need for overlap in the real world. I came into this program because I wanted to be challenged to think in way I had not before, and to be re-introduced to subjects from a different perspective.
Clare Sullivan, Trustee, Dyer Memorial Library
The courses in the CCT Program taught new skills and activated my mind in a way not done since undergraduate years. I continually use what I learned in CCT courses. I use specific critical skills every time I listen to a news broadcast or read an editorial. I use creative and critical skills in my position as chairperson of the Board of Trustees at the Dyer Memorial Library in Abington. I even use the skills of effective argument in social situations. In short, the CCT program was well worth my time and commitment.
Elizabeth Van Atten, Elementary Teacher
I was introduced to CCT in 1993. I had returned to substitute teaching after a 15 year hiatus involving my own child production and following my husband around the world as his work led him. At that time the Shrewsbury school system was emphasizing CCT and encouraging teachers to take courses. After accumulating several credits, UMass accepted me AND my credits into a Master’s program. It turned out to be the most challenging and most rewarding thing I ever did that was JUST FOR ME. Now, three years after writing a thesis and getting this degree, my teaching has become infused with CT so that I am not even conscious of teaching it anymore. The most obvious evidence of the infusion of CT in my teaching is in the structure and organization of my classroom. Through CT techniques, my second graders are empowered to become independent decision makers. And, my CT degree has empowered me with self-assurance about my teaching goals as well as the expertise and self-confidence to explain to parents what it is that I am doing with their children. Through their nurturing, I came to believe in myself and strove to follow the ideal modeling of their teaching. The teaching of every professor was never a dull lecture, but a true demonstration of CT in action.
Lisa Veldran, Special Needs Teacher
The importance of the CCT Program to me is not just a group of credits with a degree at the end. Rather, it is a philosophy and a set of real-world strategies that have been of immediate use to me and of critical importance to my students in my role as a teacher in both Boston and Milton schools. The quality of my professors and the dedication and compassion of my classmates has given me increased inspiration that I take into my classroom everyday.
Laurie Jo Wallace
I was initially attracted to the CCT program because I had several colleagues who were engaged in it and they found it demanding work. As a teacher and trainer, one of my main needs was to find a challenging program that would engage me, and I found it in the Critical and Creative Thinking program. The entire program is designed to teach those in education, social services, business, science and the arts to learn how to think and to learn how to teach others to think. I have used the ideas, readings and research discussed in classes to advance my own career in the public health field and to become a better trainer and manager. The Critical Creative Thinking program has intellectual integrity, and more than that it has a profound effect on the personal growth of many of the students. Even as a very part time student, I gained from the community of students and faculty who are really interested in and dedicated to challenge and growth in the human experience.
Zhenxing Wang, Playwright
I am a Chinese who lived in Germany for more than 3 years. Right after I learned about CCT in Germany, I interrupted my Ph.D program there and decided to come to CCT, UMass/Boston. CCT contributes a great deal to the global issue. CCT has changed my life positively. I don’t expect to be changed negatively.
Lauren Young, Adult Educator
In a world of academic conformity, the CCT program shines like a beacon. Its piercing light unveils a world of possibilities for students like myself who seek an interdisciplinary program with flexibility to mesh ideas and goals. CCT allows me to pursue my goal of working with adults to develop better problem solving skills in the classroom and in business settings. The caliber of the students and faculty in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program is not to be matched. Never have I had the chance to work with such bright, talented and motivated people who are dedicated to the enhancement of learning and education.
Susan Anne Ripley Young, Math Teacher
The Critical and Creative Thinking Program met all of my criteria and exceeded my expectation. The professors are not only devoted to their own area of study, but also to how the ideas of critical and creative thinking are interwoven within their particular disciplines. In general, an individual’s way of thinking is broadened and expanded as they uncover assumptions and experiment with different ideas and perspectives. They foster community of learning and inquiry among their diverse pupils. Such collaboration allows for incredible learning opportunities that simply do not happen in single-disciplinary programs.
Cynthia Zafft, Disabilities and Health Care
The program provides a unique opportunity for education across the disciplines and deals with the essential concepts of human thought and activity. The program provides a unique opportunity for education across the disciplines and deals with the essential concepts of human thought and activity.