Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
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07-02-2013, 07:21 AM (This post was last modified: 07-02-2013 07:36 AM by Zat.)
Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
In the "How can people be so different?" thread I wrote the following:

===================================================================

"These 'rules' of thinking should be on the top of curriculum from the kindergarten on.

I call it the rules of "Critical Thinking".

It is all about asking the right questions and insisting on answers.

1. how do you define it?
2. is your definition based on reliable observation and logic?
3. how do you know?
4. what have you observed?
5. how reliable are your sources?
6. are there contradictions between these concepts?
7. between a concept and your observations?
8. what is the cause-and-effect chain?
9. what happened before that?
10. what happened after?
11. is that the simplest explanation (Ockham's Razor)?
12. What probability do you assign to it?
13. What other reasonable explanation can you imagine?
14. Is there a limit to human understanding?
15. Are we mentally equipped to observe and understand ALL of reality?
16. How small are we compared to infinite space and infinite time?
17. How many times have we been lied to before by authorities in politics and in religion?

If you are in the habit of asking these questions, then you are less likely to hold simplistic, extreme views."

===================================================================

My questions are the following:

- To what extent have these rules been taught to you in your own education?
- Do you think it would be a good idea to teach these rules and their application in a separate class?
- Can you describe how such a class would be conducted?
- What chance do you think is there that it will ever happen?
- What effect would it have on society in the short and in the long run?
- Would you add to/change/delete any of these rules?

Huh
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07-02-2013, 07:58 AM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
Tongue
(07-02-2013 07:21 AM)Zat Wrote:  ...
- What effect would it have on society in the short and in the long run?
...

In the world of Governance and Management in which I live, this way of thinking would necessary for the former and appalling for the latter.
Governance Audits would be thorough but no one would actually get any work done.
Same for the Military, I suspect.

(07-02-2013 07:21 AM)Zat Wrote:  ...
- Would you add to/change/delete any of these rules?

Well... I hate to be critical....
Tongue

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07-02-2013, 08:34 AM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
DLJ, I was hoping that the first reply would take these questions seriously, thus establishing the tone of this thread.

Not that I am against humour and frivolity, but this topic is very close to my heart and I was hoping for a serious discussion. Smile
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07-02-2013, 08:52 AM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
(07-02-2013 08:34 AM)Zat Wrote:  DLJ, I was hoping that the first reply would take these questions seriously, thus establishing the tone of this thread.

Not that I am against humour and frivolity, but this topic is very close to my heart and I was hoping for a serious discussion. Smile


From which I deduce that you did not understand my answer.

Oh well.

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07-02-2013, 08:55 AM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
The 2 stick-your-tongue-out smilies may have confused me. Sad

So, do you have any answers to the other questions I asked?
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07-02-2013, 09:20 AM (This post was last modified: 07-02-2013 09:24 AM by DLJ.)
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
(07-02-2013 08:55 AM)Zat Wrote:  The 2 stick-your-tongue-out smilies may have confused me. Sad

So, do you have any answers to the other questions I asked?

Oh, sorry. The first one was a typo. Ooops!

Ok...
- To what extent have these rules been taught to you in your own education?
Depends on the teacher I had for whichever subject. tbh, I never paid attention at school. My critical thinking skills came from parents (average radical lefty teachers) and possibly from my brand of autism which means that I'm very literal and rarely think inside the box.

- Do you think it would be a good idea to teach these rules and their application in a separate class?
Maybe but it would probably happen as an elective like learning Logic or Stats whereas I think, to be effective it should start early (maybe pre-school) and therefore should be part of the method of teaching, ingrained into the way we are taught.

- Can you describe how such a class would be conducted?
N/A - see above

- What chance do you think is there that it will ever happen?
I think it already happens to some degree.
The nature of learning, however, is going to change radically over the next ten years with better utilisation of on-line resources and increasing access and improved delivery mechanisms.
We are already discussing on-line, trainer-led learning methods and mechanisms.
It will be imperative that, given the amount of crap on the interwebz, kids will need to have these critical skills just to be able to participate.

- What effect would it have on society in the short and in the long run?
This is the interesting one.
An efficient and effective society requires rules to be followed. The companies who seek out my services are having problems with either efficiency or effectiveness or both. I fix these issues by identifying process deficiencies and then recommending improvements based on current best practices.
If people challenge these rules, great, but ultimately if there no consensus and people ONLY criticise, then no progress is made.
Imagine if a soldier used your process for every order they received!
On the other hand, if all soldiers did this, perhaps there wouldn't be wars. Consider

- Would you add to/change/delete any of these rules?
This is where I was trying to be funny. No

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07-02-2013, 09:22 AM (This post was last modified: 07-02-2013 09:27 AM by Peterkin.)
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
Quote: - To what extent have these rules been taught to you in your own education?
Back then, it was applied to several subjects, but never taught as a separate discipline. Of course, my post-secondary education was technical, dealing with observable, measurable subject-matter - all science, no guessing.

Quote: - Do you think it would be a good idea to teach these rules and their application in a separate class?
Probably not a whole class through 12 or more years of school. Perhaps as a warm-up exercise every morning, using age-appropriate news items from the students' own environment. Then include critique as part of all reading, history and civics classes. I do advocate civics as a regular course throughout, btw.

Quote: - Can you describe how such a class would be conducted?
Yes, but i won't detail it here. As an exercise, i would certainly begin with material supplied by the students: a newspaper clipping or advertisement, family argument or even just a question that has occupied them, like "Why don't starships have seat-belts?" The idea is to analyze real-life situations, not some esoteric formula in a textbook.

Quote: - What chance do you think is there that it will ever happen?
For all i know, Montessori schools and community kindergartens are already doing it in some form. In public school, it's left to the individual teacher - who is already overburdened with paperwork. To introduce a new curriculum would probably take a major shift in political philosophy. To corporate and military drones, critical thinking is a handicap. We'd have to redefine the purpose of education.

Quote: - What effect would it have on society in the short and in the long run?
In the short run, big stinky ructions from clergy - iow, no different from now. It takes 18 years to raise a citizen. We are now seeing the effect of the environmental consciousness introduced into school curricula in the 90's, and have been seeing the wide-spread results of (and backlash to) social sensitivity from even earlier. In 15-20 years, you could see a very different approach to consumerism and political participation. To have really large-scale results, though, you would also have to address some of the cultural insanity outside of schools.

Quote: - Would you add to/change/delete any of these rules?
I would hold the last four off the younger children, though classroom discussion might include questions such as "How do you tell if a grownup is telling the truth?"

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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07-02-2013, 02:21 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
(07-02-2013 09:22 AM)Peterkin Wrote:  I would hold the last four off the younger children, though classroom discussion might include questions such as "How do you tell if a grownup is telling the truth?"
I included the last four, specifically, to give arguments to those who are still fighting the stranglehold of religion.

I believe, it puts the religious brainwashing practices to their place and would help their victims to rebel and hold their grounds.
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07-02-2013, 02:37 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
- To what extent have these rules been taught to you in your own education?
Not explicitly for critical reasoning, but a lot for every other class, mainly in Philosophy and Investigation Methodology

- Do you think it would be a good idea to teach these rules and their application in a separate class?
Not sure if in a separate class, I think it is better if it's teached in every class with different approaches to account different subjects: it's not the same for math, biology or ethics, so the questions may need different points of view, which will also help to open minds.

- Can you describe how such a class would be conducted?
N/A

- What chance do you think is there that it will ever happen?
A big fat chance, it only needs a responsible educational system and good and motivated teachers.

- What effect would it have on society in the short and in the long run?
Not much will change in the short term, but at least some things could be greatly improved with time, it could help a lot to tackle political and social issues.

- Would you add to/change/delete any of these rules?
[font=Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif]Yes, this two:[/font]
16. How small are we compared to infinite space and infinite time?
17. How many times have we been lied to before by authorities in politics and in religion?


[font=Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif]16-The infinity isn't actually proved so it's not very responsible to assume it[/font]
[font=Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif]17-It's a loaded question, with a lot of baggage, that question could sustain its own planetary system and eventually explode in a super nova and turn into a black hole of flame wars and extremists [/font] Blink

And as I said, I wouldn't make an specific class (maybe in a philosophy class it could be treated more explicitly) but I'd try to push it in every class with different points of view according to the subject.


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07-02-2013, 02:50 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
As many of you know, I grew up in Communist Hungary (had nothing to do with communism as an organizing ideology).

You could not speak out against the system, so our teachers were restrained -- however, scinece was very much encouraged and our teachers used every opportunity to teach us critical thinking methods and principles.

They never told us explicitly that the system was rotten, they only told us to think for ourselves, scientifically, and never take anything for granted.

In literature, in history, in language classes, they told us to analyze the proposition with a clear, critical mind and follow logic where it took us.

That was all we needed.

Without dangerous and futile criticism of the existing political system, our teachers prepared us for independent thinking.

If it was possible in communist Hungary -- it should be possible, even today, in the western educational system.

Only the will seems to be missing.
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