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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Critical Thinking--What's It All About?

Critical Thinking--What's It All About?

Related Tags: 6-8 Middle School
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This is one of the biggest fads in education; but I don't see a discussion. My suspicion is that this thing is being oversold. Sure, clear thinking is the goal. But so-called Critical Thinking is typically a way to attack conventional wisdom. It tells kids not to accept what parents or others might say just because they have authority. At a more trivial level, Critical Thinking seems to be saying: consider the evidence, listen to others. That's fine, but certainly not worthy of all the hoopla now being heaped on Critical Thinking. I'm often the contrarian in these matters, so I don't want to make too much of my concerns. But there is one nagging suspicion I do think worthy of your own investigation. If someone did want to teach real critical thinking, would they do it in the manner that Critical Thinking says? Even at the college level, this thing seems to be THINKING LITE. It stays on the surface. It seems to me the first thing you would teach to kids is Aesop’s fables. You would have fun with puzzles and riddles. You would discuss mazes, optical illusions, paradoxes, the simplest syllogisms. The most elementary stuff could be used to warm up young minds and get them used to the idea that there is a better way to go from A to B. Little by little, you could introduce the idea of the hypothesis, the thought experiment, the scientific method, the concept of evidence, and the notion of proof. (Well, I've been working on a piece for weeks, so this topic is much on my mind. If you want the contrarian view, Google "59: Critical Thinking--If Only.")

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