Saturday, February 05, 2005

About the Cover:

A short introduction to the problem of school I very much agree with this article, and may link to it in the sidebar, because it is well worth remembering.

Notes on Critical Thinking:
"Critical thinking" in the sense I was taught it means ARQ. For those uninitiated in the ways of the Honors College here, I will give a brief explanation of what ARQ means, and what it represents.
Browne, M. Neil, and Keeley, Stuart M. Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking. 7th Ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2004.
On the second page just below the Library of Congress catalog information is a small paragraph which I believe most people overlook, as it's hidden with the rest of the publishing data and seems unimportant. It reads:

"About the cover: At first glance, you may have thought you were looking at a photograph of a road sign somewhere in Europe. Did you question this initial impression? What did you first notice about the sign? Did your mind start to realize that your initial assumption was wrong? Why? This road sign is actually located in southern Maine, where many towns were given European place names. In becoming a critical thinker, you learn to take control of your own thought processes and go beyond the obvious by questioning, analyzing, and evaluating your own thoughts and ideas."

ARQ has 14 chapters encompassing 11 steps to well developed critical thinking skills. The "right questions" we are taught to ask are as follows:
1. What are the Issue and Conclusion?
2. What are the Reasons?
3. What words or phrases are Ambiguous?
4. What are the Value Conflics and Assumptions?
5. What are the Descriptive Assumptions?
6. Are there any Fallacies in the Reasoning?
7. How Good is the Evidence? (two chapters)
8. Are there Rival Causes?
9. Are the Statistics Deceptive?
10. What Significant Information is Omitted?
11. What Reasonable Conclusions are Possible?

Of course these are reasonable questions to ask when one is faced with an argument for abortion, or a speech about the State of the Union. We should analyze what we hear to be sure we're not just (excuse my language) swallowing bullshit. These questions, however, are meant to help us question and analyze our own thoughts and ideas, as stated in that little paragraph on the title page.

Am I to understand that the point of critical thinking is to create self-doubt? When I am taught to question every original thought I have, it leads me to believe that my ideas, and therefore my self, are inherently flawed. That's great for self esteem.

That's just one problem the schools have. I'm too tired to go into it all. Let it suffice to say I could write a doctoral thesis on the problems of the American Education system, and I've got case examples straight from my own family.

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