Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
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07-02-2013, 02:56 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
(07-02-2013 02:50 PM)Zat Wrote:  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.
There is more to the western than the US Cool

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07-02-2013, 03:01 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
...
Since I live in Canada, and have spent years in Western Europe, I have a birds' eye view.
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07-02-2013, 03:20 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
(07-02-2013 03:01 PM)Zat Wrote:  ...
Since I live in Canada, and have spent years in Western Europe, I have a birds' eye view.
The of course! As far as I know Canada is great in terms of education. But don't forget that it's not all about the schools. Not every kid picks up the subtleties of learning and thinking and it's pretty hard to teach those things, because those are experiences and experiences can't be taught. It's like love, you can't teach someone to feel love...
Setting up the right conditions is all we can do Confused

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07-02-2013, 04:44 PM (This post was last modified: 07-02-2013 04:48 PM by Julius.)
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
(07-02-2013 02:50 PM)Zat Wrote:  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.
Zat,

Thanks for that post. I gave it a "Like" and if I could have, I would have given your post 5 "Likes".

I live in the US, and the kids who graduate from our K-12 school system pretty much don't know how to think critically. Although the US has a great K-4 education system, our 5-12 education leaves a lot to be desired as can be demonstrated by international comparison tests. Anyways, as soon as the US kids start transitioning from a concrete mode of thinking to a more conceptual mode of thinking is when we they start falling behind the kids from other countries - and this starts about the 5th grade. By the end of Grade 8 most of them are so far behind they never catch up in grades 9-12.

I used to teach 7th grade Science and I think I might know why we lose the kids: Science is taught a mile wide and an inch deep. The blur of subjects a 12-year-old is subjected to in a 7th-grade Science Course is insane: Newtonian Physics, Atomic Theory, Electro-magnetic Fundamentals, near-earth Astronomy, Chemisty, Plant Biology, Cell Biology, Genetics, Geology, Evolution, Meteorology....Shit, my head is going to explode! I'm sure that the situation in the other subjects they study is little different. As a result, there is just no time for the kids to slow up and think - there is just too much to memorize to worry about "Thinking". So...just when the kid's developing Conceptual Abilities need the most work is when we slam them the hardest with concrete knowledge and make damned sure they will be insufficiently developed. As a teacher, this bothered me no small measure.

This is just the start - a small part of the problem.

Thanks.

Julius
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07-02-2013, 05:08 PM (This post was last modified: 07-02-2013 05:32 PM by fstratzero.)
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
Critical Thinking is really three concepts.

How we think

How we should think

And comparing those two, to self analyze and move your thinking to a place where you can make better decisions about the world.

Knowledge about biases, emotions, and fallacies are to be applied to the self. Then taken care of. That way you can separate truth from fiction.

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07-02-2013, 05:13 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
Thank you Julius.

Part of the problem, I believe, is an overwhelming amount of input the kids are being bombarded with. They are constantly inundated with text messages, Youtube videos, Tweats, Facebook entries -- with practically no private times during which time they can think and digest.

I remember, during my teens, I often went out to the nearby forest, sat down under a tree for hours, by myself, and think, write poetry, sing to the birds and just work hard at discovering who I really was.

My two kids, living in Canada, never had that experience.

When I was teaching in college, I was often shocked by the immaturity of my first-year students who seemed to be 4 years behind in their growing up.

I am convinced that the only hope for our species, should there be one, is in a drastic redefinition in the purpose of the educational system.

Do we want to manufacture cogs for a machine, or living, thinking human beings?
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07-02-2013, 05:34 PM (This post was last modified: 07-02-2013 05:39 PM by Luminon.)
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
Politicians, parents, principals and other people starting with the letter P are not likely to allow teaching critical thinking in schools, because there wouldn't be anything left of them. If we teach critical thinking, the children will ask:
Why do we need to learn maths, history and stuff? Why can't we look that up on Wikipedia? What do we need it for? Certainly not for life.
The teacher will reply - You will need this education for the exams.
And what do we need the exams for?
It is a certificate that you are educated.
But this is a circular argument!
Be silent!!! Go to the principal office! We cal your parents!


- To what extent have these rules been taught to you in your own education?
Zilch. Not until I got the internet.

- Do you think it would be a good idea to teach these rules and their application in a separate class?
Yes, such a good idea that would lead to breakdown of the education curriculum, decrease of marketing effectiveness in children, problems with ordering children around (parenting) and later serious problems during elections.
Which means I'm all for it. I just suspect the system has some self-preserving instinct. After all, this is what Socrates was convicted for, "corrupting minds of the youth of Athens and impiety - not believing in the gods of the state". Asking questions is a dangerous hobby. From asking questions there is close to questioning, from questioning to doubting, from doubting to blasphemy and from blasphemy to attacking and from attacking to a justified defensive reaction.
So we have to do the job well, teaching the children also that we give them a dangerous skill, dangerous mainly to themselves.

- Can you describe how such a class would be conducted?
I'd say, telling of seemingly neutral and acceptable stories, by narration or on a video, cartoon for example. Each story would contain some logical fallacy, an attempt for manipulation, unjustified claim, political tactics, etc. Children would then compete to show others where it is wrong and why. With luck, none real fallacies have to be portrayed, children themselves should see the pattern of a fictional religion or a political party or advertisement and see how similar it is to things they see daily. (all similarity will be of course purely intentional)

- What chance do you think is there that it will ever happen?
In an organized, systematic way? No chance under the present system, it's better to start with online learning services like Khan's Academy.

- What effect would it have on society in the short and in the long run?
As I said, very good, very interesting and very "dangerous" in the short run. It would produce many child atheists and consequently many homeless children. Consider
In the long run? We'll need more than that. Creativity, equilibrium, moderacy, brotherhood, sharing and so on.

- Would you add to/change/delete any of these rules?
No change, I'd just complement them with the great method of Heron's beard Big Grin All right, teaching the art of intellectual warfare is a good thing for today, but what do we teach for the time of peace?
I have too many ideas for that.
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07-02-2013, 05:44 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
I want to submit another issue I find in education Tongue

The staggering amount of useful information, not only facebook posts and tweets, but actual knowledge.
There was a time that all the knowledge of humanity could fit in a couple of books, those times were easy, then we got to a golden window (methinks it was between the 1800's and 1950's give or take) in which the basic knowledge could be learned in a few decades and from that on anyone could expand.
But now the "basic" knowledge needed in order to expand is just too much, that's why we need so much interdisciplinarity, nobody can know what it takes to make progress, and our minds just aren't getting bigger.

Of course, any kid would just say "fuck this shit" and go play games and worry about superfluous things before facing such a challenge, and thus our growing knowledge backfires and produces a generation of people who just don't want to think, because thinking is too hard for average people.

Maybe we need to start teaching less variety of subjects but more content, but I'm not sure how that would work Confused

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07-02-2013, 05:48 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education
(07-02-2013 05:13 PM)Zat Wrote:  Do we want to manufacture cogs for a machine, or living, thinking human beings?
Well, you and I want to help produce Human Beings, but this might not be the goal of everyone. I mean, the American Education System has been screwed up so bad and for so long, it makes me wonder if it serves anyone's purpose and, as a result, is the reason it persists. I think it may, and so does the comedian George Carlin who simply asks the age-old question, "Cui bono?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsL6mKxtOlQ
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07-02-2013, 05:58 PM
RE: Teaching "Critical Thinking" in Education



Member of the Cult of Reason

The atheist is a man who destroys the imaginary things which afflict the human race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to reason.
-Baron d'Holbach-
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