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Old 15th November 2018, 06:49 PM   #1
michael44
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Teaching our youth critical thinking skills.

Could this possibly be done in a classroom setting? The aim here, is to equip students with a set of general problem-solving approaches that can be applied to any given circumstance. I'm also thinking it could help nip in the bud a huge number of conspiracy theories. Thoughts?
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Old 15th November 2018, 07:03 PM   #2
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In high school, damn near every class I took focused as much on critical thinking as it did on the subject mentioned in the class name. Teaching kids to reason in any situation was as important that teaching them to reason on a specific subject. That was *long* ago. But, its been more or less the same form my recent HS graduate kids.

This article from '99 calls that out pretty clearly:
Quote:
Now held in the highest estimation by all disciplines, critical thinking has surpassed even truth as the premier pedagogical objective. Whereas professors once aspired to fill the empty vessels sitting in their lecture halls with timeless and universal knowledge, many of us no longer even attempt to teach our students truth. When all particular truths become untrustworthy, our intellectual faith migrates to more fundamental cognitive bedrock, namely, reason itself, and as teachers we come to believe that students will receive greater benefits from developing and exercising their own muscles of reason than by memorizing the feats of history’s biggest brains.
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Old 15th November 2018, 07:18 PM   #3
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I beg to differ. I think the challenge today is that many pre-post schools have fallen short of building upon the cognitive skills necessary for the use of critical thinking. Therefore, applying critical thinking outside specific subject matter when a student has yet to form enough cognitive skills, would have been of little use.
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Old 15th November 2018, 07:42 PM   #4
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Curious. Its certainly been a powerful learning tool for me, and for most of the kids I've watched go through schooling since. Most of those kids are far better at critical th8inking in general that I was at their age. Their schooling - learning critical thinking as an overlay in all subjects - was just more advanced than mine.

But, I'm curious, what are these cognitive skills necessary to critical thinking that should not be applied generally and should be restricted to a specific subject (or am I misinterpreting that third sentence)?
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Old 15th November 2018, 08:00 PM   #5
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Parents don't want kids coming home and questioning them. So there is a lot of stuff they leave out of the curriculum if it will cause issues.
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Old 15th November 2018, 08:27 PM   #6
michael44
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Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
I'm curious, what are these cognitive skills necessary to critical thinking that should not be applied generally and should be restricted to a specific subject (or am I misinterpreting that third sentence)?
Those cognitive skills are the inability to look at many issues from multiple perspectives.
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Old 15th November 2018, 08:45 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by NewtonTrino View Post
Parents don't want kids coming home and questioning them. So there is a lot of stuff they leave out of the curriculum if it will cause issues.
And you would think parents and educators would encourage otherwise.

Last edited by michael44; 15th November 2018 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 16th November 2018, 02:20 AM   #8
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I've just completed this free online course on logical and critical thinking, it might give you some useful ideas. I thought it was pretty good.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/...tical-thinking
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Old 16th November 2018, 02:42 AM   #9
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I've no idea what they learn at school these days. In my day, I learned nothing . The level of education was abysmal. I was discussing this with a mate the other week and we concluded that the totality of our learning across secondary school could probably be fitted into an intensive two week period. Even at A level, aside from maths (we had a superb teacher for maths), our education consisted of being bombarded with dry facts and dictations regurgitated by people who literally didn't know what was coming out of their mouths. I remember our sixth-form physics class being 'instructed' to perform the Young's double slit experiment with no precursor or explanation. Once concluded we were told (pretty much verbatim) that 'This shows light behaves like a wave and like a particle, " then, "Any questions? OK, pack up and go quietly!" I turned to my mate and said, "What the **** was that ****?" It was a decade before I realised they had presented the most incredible experiment in human history as a stultifying, nonsensical parody of itself. The idea that we might have been taught to think is laughable. That's the last thing they wanted us to do.
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Old 16th November 2018, 08:02 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by NewtonTrino View Post
Parents don't want kids coming home and questioning them. So there is a lot of stuff they leave out of the curriculum if it will cause issues.
Mum, why do I look more like the milkman than I look like dad?
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"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
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Old 16th November 2018, 01:51 PM   #11
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There was a funny TED talk on this topic. A teacher cobbled together a somewhat irregularly shaped tank - a hexagon, I think - and instructed middle school students to record how long it took to fill it up with a hose. They stared at it for a few minutes, then said, "Isn't there a quicker way to do this?" So that got a conversation going, about volume and how to calculate it for triangular and rectangular prisms, and add those volumes together, and discover the rate of flow. The point IIRC was to have the kids not just figure out the answer but figure out the questions. I guess this technique worked for this speaker, or he wouldn't be giving the talk. But in many respects it's easier for the teacher to list the steps, then work out the answer while students take notes. It takes a lot of confidence to do something this passive-aggressive
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Old 16th November 2018, 03:28 PM   #12
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I had learned critical thinking in high school, however it wasn't an effect of the curriculum, it was specific high school teachers that were really good - about 4 or 5 all together. Clone those folks.

Also, they didn't really teach applying critical thinking outside of their academic subjects.
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Old 17th November 2018, 01:25 AM   #13
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About the wisest thing a (high school chemistry) teacher ever said to me was "Be a skeptic, not a cynic." And while I got the former part it took me awhile to understand the latter and how it fit in. He was telling me to demand evidence, but also to accept evidence.
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Old 20th November 2018, 11:43 AM   #14
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As an engineer, I found that it was crucial to examine any innovative design I made with skepticism. The desire to have found a significant improvement or breakthrough pushes one to explore the unexplored. But it also creates the tendency to see what you want to see. I learned early that the best results were obtained by questioning assumptions and "results" early before I went too far down a fruitless path. Those were probably the best lessons learned about critical thinking.
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Old 7th December 2018, 04:01 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
About the wisest thing a (high school chemistry) teacher ever said to me was "Be a skeptic, not a cynic." And while I got the former part it took me awhile to understand the latter and how it fit in. He was telling me to demand evidence, but also to accept evidence.
The last part..I also heard it to a high school teacher of mine long ago. And it really helped.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:35 PM   #16
AlaskaBushPilot
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Originally Posted by baron View Post
I've no idea what they learn at school these days. In my day, I learned nothing . The level of education was abysmal. I was discussing this with a mate the other week and we concluded that the totality of our learning across secondary school could probably be fitted into an intensive two week period. Even at A level, aside from maths (we had a superb teacher for maths), our education consisted of being bombarded with dry facts and dictations regurgitated by people who literally didn't know what was coming out of their mouths. I remember our sixth-form physics class being 'instructed' to perform the Young's double slit experiment with no precursor or explanation. Once concluded we were told (pretty much verbatim) that 'This shows light behaves like a wave and like a particle, " then, "Any questions? OK, pack up and go quietly!" I turned to my mate and said, "What the **** was that ****?" It was a decade before I realised they had presented the most incredible experiment in human history as a stultifying, nonsensical parody of itself. The idea that we might have been taught to think is laughable. That's the last thing they wanted us to do.
Critical thinking exposes hypocrisy, injustice, and most of all incompetence.

Our best thinkers self-select into higher paid occupations. Engineering, Chemistry, law and business, medicine, ect. Not teaching.

Culturally we have made the idiotic decision to ignore IQ differences and pretend that morons can get "High School" diplomas.

"Smarter people get paid more, therefore: everyone is smart now". Well no, now you've destroyed the very purpose of a "High" school diploma. Now it is just toilet paper.

We group kids by age, not by their academic profiles. We promote them socially. Everyone gets a high school diploma as an attendance award.

So it means nothing, and no critical thinking skills are required to get one. Intelligent people are a threat in a classroom lead by a person from the lowest ACT/SAT college test cohort.

Our state came in 50th out of the 50 states in reading. The results came out this semester.

The teachers at our local school have "The Incredible Mr. Smith" and "Amazing Ms. Jones" on their classroom doors.

The scores for our state are 19th percentile internationally, using the PISA as a benchmark. Our local students are below the state average. So we are talking on the order of 15th percentile internationally. For our school.

The boys, even worse. The top students at our school, bad as they are: all girls. The only ones scoring "superior" in any subject through all grades tested are girls.

Let's see: one male teacher and no male administrators in the entire school.

We cannot apply critical thinking to that one, wow! Talk about the PC police coming out in force.

Our students are completely ignorant of their competitive condition, and telling them so exposes what a gigantic fraud the whole thing is. What a tragic waste of time for people with higher IQ's.

Once you have a rigorous reading/writing/math/science primary education you have already been introduced to logical thinking.

Organizing it as a special study can be done quite early for a higher-IQ person. Age 9 or 10, no problem for a bright kid. To learn logial fallacies. How to build arguments logically. Proof by contradiction, etc.
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Old 7th December 2018, 04:02 PM   #17
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Most K-12 schools suck. Smart kids usually have parents that provide resources to fill in public education. And this has become far easier and cheaper for parents to do today. Smartest guy I ever hired was an army brat. He was constantly moving from one place to another when his dad, a career officer, was reassigned. That's hard on kids. But strong parents teach their kids to overcome adversity and achieve. I hired him after running across his thesis at a UC library. It was in a critical area I was working on. I got in touch, as luck would have it he was starting to look for a job. I flew him out for an interview and hired him on the spot. FWIW, he was also black. Coal black.
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Old 7th December 2018, 11:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Jinny9 View Post
The last part..I also heard it to a high school teacher of mine long ago. And it really helped.
Laboratory - use the first 5 letters, not the last 7.
I did NOT invent it, but I posted it on Dirty Dan the Chemistry Man's blackboard and he loved it - left it up for at least the rest of that school year.


By the by, the reason he was called DDTCM was that girls got an easy A by sitting in the front row in shortish skirts. If you get my gist and I think you do...…….
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