4 Comments

  1. M

    I’ve been thinking about this since it first appeared.

    “Critical Thinking Skills,” the phrase itself, is one of “those” combinations of words, with an inherent appeal to authority which, given my personal background, immediately causes my spine to stiffen and no doubt pupils to dilate. 🙂

    Moving away from that though, to the discussion I think you’re intending to have, raises the question for me of: can we do it?

    Can we envision, implement, sustain, and measure the efficacy of educating children via what I’ll loosely refer to as the ‘Socratic Method.”

    I have a professional license gained solely and intentionally by responding to endless series of tests that were comprised entirely of multiple choice questions with four answers, two of which were always understood to be useless, one intended to distract, and finally one that was correct.

    “Critical Thinking” inside a nice gift wrapped box of choices thoughtfully provided for my convenience. 🙂

    For example:

    Bobby, age 7, is bleeding profusely. You should:

    a) give him a kitten
    b) talk about Jesus and puppies
    c) consider ways the bleeding can affect his health
    d) hold pressure and ask the doctor if he wants to type and match

    As you can see, it has limitations.

    Seriously though, can we begin in kindergarten with something a little more “fill in the blank” coupled with access to the learning resources necessary to fill in those blanks? Can we teach all 64 colors in the big box of Crayolas without resorting to memorization? The alphabet? Can we work with the curiosity that’s part of every child’s mind without murdering it by the third grade?

    I certainly didn’t ask but I spent the past week with a group of young adults, all HS grads, properly credentialed as such, that I’m “pretty sure” may not once have ever read a book.

    I had a friend once who, apparently, only had to glance at something a few times to commit it to memory. I also had a friend once who was dyslexic (and it took years for me to catch on to that) who was dynamic, outgoing, extroverted — and doing just fine in life.

    It’s an interesting comparison (if not fully developed) for me because it seems to me that my dyslexic friend had no choice but to live in a “Socratic” world. Everything had to be acquired via examination, exploration and interrogation and that necessity forged a remarkable personality, intrinsically insatiable and, frankly, far more interesting and fun to be around.

    I’m not really sure I have a fully formed point here other than I think we owe it to ourselves and children to be more than the meat based component of a Ford assembly line.

    • Bookscrounger

      Interesting comments.

      I will simply say that before we teach critical thinking skills, we must tolerate them. Every child starts off curious & creative, and open to questioning the world around her. We quickly disabuse her of that nonsense.

      From there, the comment I made in this post, students have to experience teachers who are open-minded, and willing to admit they may be wrong.

      Education is a miracle. We don’t teach a child; we show her the pattern, she recognizes it, and then runs wild with it. Or at least she will if someone isn’t standing there with a switch telling her she had better not question the switch-holder, or God, or the church, or the scientist, or the textbook, or the political party.

  2. Carey simon

    Great article My fondest childhood memories were spending time with my Great Aunt, simply singing hymns at night before bedtime , and having her read to me. Children today are so “rushed” everyday, with both parents working most of the time ….No time for individual attention .

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