I agree with Professor Birkhead that the education system has not been producing independent thinkers by being far too proscriptive with the learning agenda.
A colleague of mine who has worked in the philosophy department of a prestigious university has told me the students' expectations have become more and more consumerist with each passing year. Not content to be set an essay and some reading, they have been demanding to know what six points they need to include in the essay in order to pass. Their position is: "I paid for this course so I demand to know what I need to do to pass it."
I work with teachers and children in primary and have found that, certainly at the primary level, children are naturally good thinkers and all they need is a nudge in the right direction. The sad fact is that all too often they don't even receive that.
The critical thinking A-level is of little use if it is not being taught at an earlier level. It would be like expecting a student to be able to do an A-level in a foreign language without having done any previous studies in the subject.
Peter Worley, Consultant philosopher, London.