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Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’

Well, we’re in it, now, aren’t we? I’m talking about Election Season, of course, and it’s pretty clear that it’s time to fasten our seatbelts.

As we prepare for this long, bumpy night to November 3rd, though, let’s not forget the most important Social Media Commandment:

Thou Shalt Not Get Played.

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Critical thinking is at an all-time low.

Do you believe that? I just made it up.

But it feels true. Especially after this week.

This week I’ve seen a rash of posts, all expounding strongly worded views with the utmost confidence. Here! See this picture/statistic? This is what it means to you! Aren’t you outraged?

Sources for these have been other bloggers, online journalism, and internet memes, and in each case the material has been misconstrued, taken out of context, hyped for the sake of a headline, or just plain fabricated.

Why does this rile me up? Because I was taught to think for myself.

I was taught to think, not to take it all on faith. I was taught that the phrase “No aspirin is stronger than Bayer,” doesn’t mean that Bayer is the strongest; it means that there are others that are just as strong as Bayer.

I don’t know if my upbringing was unusual, or we stopped teaching this to our kids, but either way, it made for a maddening week. And it’s only Thursday.

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Obey the Kitty!An old friend once told me, “If you say something with enough conviction and sincerity, people will believe you.” He often put this adage into practical use. He kept a construction oversuit, a clipboard with forms, and an orange hard-hat in his trunk. With one or more of these items and a little chutzpah, he was able to go many places most of us wouldn’t try to enter. He saw the inside of the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, before it was opened to the public. He made his way onto movie location shoots. He could brass his way into a dozen places, just by sounding confident and authoritative.

It was an illustrative lesson on just how bovine we humans can be, placidly walking up the ramp to the abattoir.

I haven’t talked much about the upcoming election, on this blog, and if you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I’ve been on somewhat of a “news diet” for the couple of months. Don’t worry; I am not going to urge you to vote for Obama or Romney or Johnson (though I do urge you to vote).

I’m just going to urge you to think. Listen, and think. Throw away the demeanor. Discard all the fire and emotional claptrap.

Just listen to what they all say, and think about what is being said. It’s not easy—it’s much easier to be swayed by passion than it is to search for the logic—but it’s important, if you want to be an informed, thinking participant in our democracy. (more…)

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Obey the Kitty!If I told you that the problem with your kids is that they think too much, what would you say? Well, that’s what the Texas GOP is saying in their platform section on education.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills…, critical thinking skills and similar programs…which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

I knew it! All those pesky teachers, sitting in their classrooms, waiting—just like a spider!—until we send them our kids so they can teach them to think for themselves! Damned commie pinko junkies!

There are other gems in this section of the TX-GOP platform, including:

  • A rant against multiculturalism (It’s divisive.)
  • A hoo-rah for corporal punishment (We’ll beat your kids for you!)
  • A contradictory statement against disciplining kids without consent (We’ll beat them, but only if you give the green-light.)
  • A Henry Ford style approval of sex education (Teach them anything, as long as it’s “abstinence before marriage.”)
  • A curriculum weighted heavily with founding documents, including Founder’s writings (I guess they never read Ben Franklin’s “Fart Proudly”.)
  • The complete removal of any sort of oversight to private education (Hell…anyone can be a teacher; what’s so hard?)

And, in a final, oxymoronic, only-in-Texas coup de grâce:

  • All controversial topics such as evolution and climate change should be presented as “challengeable scientific theories” (which would be great except that, oh yeah, we don’t want to be guilty of “challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority,” remember?)

In short, it’s the kind of approach to education that evokes an image of millions of students, standing rank and file, each holding up their little red book. It’s the kind of approach that fosters bovine complacency and stifles genius. It’s the kind of approach that says:

“Don’t question authority.”
“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”
“The nail that stands up will be hammered down.”

From a purely sociological viewpoint, it would be interesting to compare the graduates of this educational policy with those of other methods, but I’d prefer to start with a smaller test group than the whole State of Texas.

k

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