Posts filed under ‘Critical thinking’

Are you guilty Google?

Sunday morningAfter 5 years, I gave up teaching at a university in Sydney largely because I was tiring of the spoon feeding students seem to expect these days. Very few students were willing to do research beyond a quick dip into Wikipedia, with the odd citation of a book or journal article thrown in. Curiosity appeared to be lacking. The general attitude seemed to be “I’m paying a heck of a lot for my education, just give me the degree/diploma”. I often had assignments handed in with slabs of text taken from Wikipedia and students more often than not failed to examine the original source material. So I threw in the towel.

Seems I’m not an isolated case as there have been some recent articles that have caught my attention and I’d like you to explore. Google and the End of Wisdom by Bob Batchelor is an interesting piece.  Here’s some snippets:

  • “I think one would be hard pressed to find a mainstream American under the age of 30 who did not feel that all their questions could be answered by Google. Today’s students, from first graders to those in graduate school, have been taught to find specific, correct answers. Google does this quickly and efficiently. For them, Google is a godsend.”
  • “In general, students are willing to forfeit advanced thinking (critical thinking, in-depth research, and healthy skepticism) for the speed and quickness of Google search results. They are so programmed by standardized testing in K-12 education that finding “facts” online is deemed sufficient to meet college-level expectations. Since standardized tests rely heavily on multiple choice examinations, the search for the single, correct answer is paramount.”
  • “Wisdom develops over time as a person stacks up experiences and finds measures to constantly reengage with the changing nature of the world at large. Relying on answers from a search engine, even if it produces thousands of results faster than the blink of an eye, cannot compare to the simple, beautiful act of sitting quietly for 15 minutes, disconnected from the computer—and thinking.”

From personal experience with Uni students over the last 5 years, I’m not going to disagree with the article. My blogging colleague Marc over at Creative Spark (you have to read his blog) had an interesting exchange with Bob regarding his article, so I won’t rehash the issues discussed.

It is of course so that we can tailor and change our information flow, through RSS feeds, Twitter exchanges and so on. So there’s an argument to say that we can be more enriched and curious in the digital world because we are exposed to so many different ideas and perspectives.

I get this but somehow – and I need to reflect more on this – it seems that today’s Uni students are just hovering at a very superficial level. They are not diving in and reflecting, ruminating, debating, challenging, exploring.

And then there was this article entitled Pixelated Brains and the New Media with a series of links to great articles, including Bob’s. The articles examine whether, with all the stuff out there in the digital universe, we are merely nibbling, grazing, getting sound bytes. Sort of like rushing through the Macca’s drive-in. We flit onto this piece of information like a butterfly and then flit somewhere else with it. But surely this aids cross-pollination of ideas.

Anyway, read the “pixelated brains” series of articles to find out whether humanity is doomed to being dumbed down or whether we are an evolving species.

At least I no longer have to mark essays that boast slabs of Wikipedia text and little evidence of critical thinking (not to mention grammatical and spelling errors). For my rants on the loss of critical thinking, go here and here if you’re interested.

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August 22, 2009 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Forget the cat: curiosity has been killed!

A curious catIn a recent post, I explored the loss of critical thinking skills. In this post, I want to extend my exploration by asking whether we have also lost curiosity. Once again, my thoughts are not fully formed and I’m asking more questions than answering them. And warning: VERY LONG post so if you’re not curious about curiosity, then read no further.

I have been bemoaning what no doubt many of us see as a hedonistic contemporary society that is stupefied by reality TV; a society that is complacent (paralysed?) in the face of poverty, increasing social unrest, terrorism, Affluenza, and the banality of Hollywood celebrity who appear to be more in, than out of, rehab.

We spend most of our time in the citadels aka corporations, where we are subtly (or not so subtly) taught not to ask questions; not to challenge the status quo; to accept that “this is the way things are around here”. As children, we explore, we discover, we probe, we sense, we ask “but why?”. Organisations do not seem to foster this natural inquisitiveness. Maybe a few words about innovation are muttered, but not curiosity. We don’t teach people trapped in the citadels the skill of curiosity.

So I was about to do a post that was basically a rant about how we are no longer curious; how we don’t have time to indulge in idle curiosity; how lowered educational standards have produced an educational system where students are spoon-fed in exchange for exhorbitant university or college fees.Then I decided to try and apply some critical thinking and so my initial thoughts somewhat changed.

But first…. my own curiosity was piqued when I read a blog post:

“Many people my age (20-something) have simply lost their curiosity. They’ve lost their desire to know what’s going on. To stay on top of the news. To be aware of the world extending beyond their general social circle. And that’s sad.

Have we gotten so used to the status quo that we are no longer interested in non-mediocrity? I thought this time of our lives was meant to be spent shaking things up, questioning authority, figuring out how messed up the world around us really was. Instead, I fear that we’ve folded up shop, accepted the reality-as-Bushworld-has-described-it and settled in for the long haul toward old age.

Do we still read newspapers for anything other than the daily crossword puzzle? Do we listen to the radio for anything other than the latest Maroon 5 single or football game? Do we surf the Internet for anything other than buying clothes, forming social networks, or watching Paris Hilton have sex? I’m starting to doubt it”

My first thoughts were: thank goodness it’s not just me getting older and muttering “younger people aren’t curious”. Here’s a 20-something individual observing the same thing – so what’s going on? Is the cat still alive but curiosity itself is dead and buried?

To find some answers, let’s take a quick trip back to ancient times. In the Garden of Eden, Eve disobeyed God, gobbled the apple and was unceremoniously kicked out of the luxuriant garden. In the panic of fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife turned to look back at the destroyed cities and was promptly turned into a pillar of salt. And Greek mythology tells us that Pandora couldn’t resist a peek, opened a box and released Evil, Sickness and Unhappiness. So in ancient times, curiosity was equated with a desire for knowledge that was beyond mere mortals and curiosity had a dangerous quality to it. Only God or the gods of Greek mythology could possess knowledge of curious and wondrous things.

By the time of Aristotle and Cicero, however, curiosity was no longer equated with seductive serpents hiding out in gardens or pillars of salt, and instead was linked to a passion or thirst for knowledge and learning. And over the last few hundred years, curiosity has become associated with scientific discovery; voyages of exploration across the seas and through the dark interior of Africa; cabinets of curiosity; the space race; technological advances.

Etymologically, “curiosity” shares its meaning with “cure” and ‘curiously wrought”, pointing to a general notion of care or careful attention. Obsolete English terms such as the ‘cure of souls” reflects the concept of caring for people.

And so our contemporary understanding of curiosity is linked with natural inquisitiveness; a sense of wonder; new experiences; experimenting; discerning a gap in knowledge; careful attention to people and things in the external landscape surrounding us. Our curiosity now even extends into the spiritual world as we seek to get in touch with those who have ‘crossed over’. But curiosity is surely tinged with anxiety, for to be curious means to explore and perhaps venture into the unknown.

Have you ever noticed how young kittens explore their world? They approach an unfamiliar object quietly, crouching and using their soft paws to probe the object. They spring back when anxious or frightened by the unfamiliar and yet continue to gingerly close in on the object in their determination to discover, conquer and reduce uncertainty. And yet, curiosity can be easily frightened again.

If we look at curiosity through the lens of the new sciences, curiosity is a space of tension between chaos and order – a zone of uncertainty where what is known and comfortable is temporarily suspended. In this zone, the curious person engages with new ways of seeing things; asking new or different questions; solving problems; recognising new connections; accepting disorder. It is a zone of temporary discomfort but one with enormous potential for creativity and knowledge generation. This is surely the same type of curiosity that astronauts and explorers experience as they venture into novel, unknown realms.

But is curiosity an innate human instinct that we’ve lost touch with or is it a result of social conditioning? If the latter, then what it is about contemporary society that seems to have caused a malady in curiosity?

Psychologist, D.E.Berlyne (one of the few I have found who has made a scientific study of curiosity) believes that curiosity is externally stimulated and that the curiosity drive is aroused by external stimuli, specifically complexity, novelty, uncertainty and conflict. But there is a balancing act – if the level of stimulation is too low, then there is no motivation to explore or learn; if stimulation is too high or confusing, then anxiety and fear results. The right amount of external stimuli produces inquisitive, exploratory behaviour.

Perhaps this is a key: contemporary society is staggering under the weight of information overload; Affluenza; hedonism; too much choice. We are so busy being connected and switched on, that we struggle to find the Off switch. And so our natural curiosity is stifled as we attempt merely to survive in an uncertain and increasingly threatening world. Is there too much uncertainty, too much unfamiliarity, too much complexity?

To ponder this further, I thought about one of my favourite spaces – museums – for surely museums rely on stimulating curiosity to attract visitors. Just visiting a museum to see a few miserable stuffed animals is not an attractor. So what are the curiosity attractors museums employ?

As Aristotle taught us: curiosity is a precursor to learning and museums are informal learning environments where attendance is not mandatory. The art of juxtaposition is the strategy museums seem to focus on – placing objects next to each other that, at first glance, appear unrelated; exhibits that tempt you to touch or explore the unfamiliar; spaces for children to solve problems; exhibitions that encourage us to reflect on the values and lives of early societies in comparison to our own.

A museum must cater for all types: the visitor who is interested specifically in Ancient Egypt but passes through other exhibits on the way; the wanderer, who drops in and out of all exhibits casually observing, connecting and learning; the serendipitous visitor who is perhaps not interested in anything specific, but explores the entire museum for hours, stopping here and there to discover unknown facts.

This caused me to reflect on Google as a virtual museum. If you know what information you need, you probably have favourite websites and blogs to visit; if you have a vague idea of what you need, you start off with one site, explore the links suggested and get lost in an exploration that may take up hours; and if you have zippo idea of what you need or want, you type in a keyword or two and leave it to serendipity.

So curiosity is stimulated by externality but surely curiosity is an innate human instinct as well? If we look at Roget’s Thesaurus, it tells us that the absence of curiosity is boredom, ennui, satiety, taking no interest, uninquisitiveness. What do we do when we are bored? Don’t know about you but I read; I write; I explore the internet – aka learning, seeking out, discovering, reflecting, connecting. So we all must have an independent exploratory drive or On switch. Has it been turned to the Off position and we’ve ended up with a society that is complacent about global warming; only curious about the private lives of celebrities; overwhelmed by choice, choice and more choice?

Perhaps curiosity is aroused by incoming stimuli as Berlyne suggests but we compare incoming stimuli with our past experiences; the patterns we’ve noted before; our cognitive understandings etc and then we find we don’t understand or cannot accommodate the incoming stimuli. This cognitive gap I think is the space for curiosity. To close or narrow the gap, we seek new information to integrate and assimilate and this helps us build a new cognitive map and increase our knowledge base. Given the etymological roots of ‘curiosity’, maybe people who pay careful attention and sense a gap or discrepancy are curious people.

If Berlyne is right and curiosity is stirred by an external environment that contains juxtapositions; raises intriguing questions; and helps you gather and process new knowledge and experience novel sensations– then curiosity must be a precursor to critical thinking and the first step towards knowledge acquisition. I’ve argued that critical thinking is a skill and so this poses the question of whether curiosity is also a skill that can be acquired.

It seems the men (and women) of the Enlightenment worked hard to acquire the skill of being curious. A Cabinet of Curiosities or ‘Wunderkammern was a central feature of a learned gentleman’s social and intellectual life and was filled with physical rarities or anomolies that defied being placed into known categories or taxonomies.A cabinet was a wonder chamber that displayed a vast range of objects such as plants, fossils, zoological specimens, exotica from colonial cultures, unusually patterned shells or stones. And the arrangement of items in the Cabinet allowed people to see new ways of associating relationships or objects. And so knowledge was constructed through an associative process. This is similar to how modern museums allow us to explore and discover connections.

Learned discussions and exchanges would take place between gentlemen in the coffeehouses and tearooms of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Human objects of curiosity were exhibited in travelling ‘freak shows” and people gazed at displays of preserved and sometimes grotesque body parts.

Objects of curiosity were often collected during the Grand Tour – the leisurely traverse of the Continent that a young gentleman undertook as a rite of passage. Often taking years, the Grand Tour was an active curiosity seeking adventure. Because of the tyranny of distance, the Age of Discovery was populated by thrill seekers eager to discover new lands; physical explorations of classical architecture on the Continent; private displays of Cabinets of Curiosity; people gathering in coffee houses to digest the latest curious and wondrous thing. It was clearly an Age of Curiosity.

What is the 21st Century version of the Grand Tour or the Cabinet of Curiosity? Is curiosity an active seeking of something? If so, then because our world is stuffed full of digital information and abundance, perhaps we are now merely passive seekers. Everything is at our fingertips via the PC and the Internet; we can meet other humans on MySpace or Facebook; we can take any voyage of discovery we like just by sitting and clicking.

And so it is a new reality we face. Maybe we are still curious but it’s a different type of curiosity. It is no longer fuelled by discovering new lands or scientific curios; it is fuelled by a thirst to know our identity in a postmodern world. Maybe curiosity has returned to a need to reconnect ourselves with nature and the environment. So it’s an internal process rather than a public one of displaying curiosity.

The Age of Discovery was a public space of curiosity: explorers physically walking, sailing and mapping the world; Newton dropping apples to learn about gravity; Galileo staring into the night sky observing planets and their satellites. Perhaps our so-called Modern Age is too smug with its reliance on science and we no longer feel the need to engage in the public space of curiosity. And so we have turned inward and discovered the New Age, the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Me and My PC. The accumulated knowledge of society is available at our fingertips on the internet to be called up Just in Time. We are no longer compelled to be curious as in the past. But we seem to be compelled to be curious about conquering of the self for beauty, health and spiritual well-being. Curiosity now equates with curiosity about me, the individual – self-knowledge.

Mmmmm…okay not sure where I am at this point in my rant. I’ve only just started thinking about all this. In the meantime, I’ve put together the thinkingshift-guide-to-being-curious.doc, which encompasses ideas and tips on how to foster curiosity in ourselves.

I’ll finish this post with a couple of things. Michel Foucault in the Masked Philosopher spoke eloquently about curiosity. He said:

“The word (curiosity) pleases me. To me it suggests something altogether different: it evokes “concern”; it evokes the care one takes for what exists and could exist; a readiness to find strange and singular what surrounds us; a certain relentlessness to break up our familiarities and to regard otherwise the same things; a fervor to grasp what is happening and what passes; a casualness in regard to the traditional hierarchies of the important and the essential.”

And here’s an excerpt from an excellent poem on curiosity by Alistair Reid.

Curiosity
may have killed the cat; more likely
the cat was just unlucky, or else curious
to see what death was like, having no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.

Nevertheless, to be curious
is dangerous enough. To distrust
what is always said, what seems
to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,
leave home, smell rats, have hunches
do not endear cats to those doggy circles
where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches
are the order of things, and where prevails
much wagging of incurious heads and tails.

Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die–
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country

where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.

Only the curious have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.

April 29, 2007 at 9:37 am 9 comments

Argument mapping improves critical thinking

Taro in ThailandFollowing up on my post on Critical Thinking, I’ve been looking into how arguments can be visualised. Simply put, an argument map is a presentation of reasoning, where the inferential sequence or structure is visualised and made explicit in an organic manner. I remember in my undergraduate philosophy courses doing very simple structural diagrams on paper and it wasn’t easy to share them or reproduce them, nor was it easy to keep track of who had rebutted what in a long philosophical debate. But now there is software to help give structure to our thinking and graphically display our claims in inferential or evidential relationship to each other.

Early 20th Century lawyer, J.H. Wigmore, is probably the originator of the graphical displaying of arguments. He developed a graphical structure for evidence in legal proceedings. Check out one of his maps here. In the 1950s, philosopher, Stephen Toulmin (a student of Wittgenstein), further developed argumentation analysis in his book, The Uses of Argument. Here’s an example of one of his maps.

Robert Horn is very well-known for his efforts in visualising argumentation, with his best known map probably being Can Computers Think? Horn picked a debate that had been raging since the 1950s – the Turing Test: whether computers can or ever will be able to think. I found Robert Horn’s explanation of how he developed pictorial argumentation maps very interesting. You can download each map and read about the claims, rebuttals, counter rebuttals etc – a great way to learn more about the structure of reasoning and argumentation. Horn considers that text and pictures have become so interwoven that they form a language of their own – visual language – and was really the first to hit on the use of a map as metaphor in the context of his work.

We have difficulty navigating our way around complex arguments when there’s no map. It would be a bit like trying to find your way around Sydney, London or New York without maps! Philosophers have been thrashing it out over the last 2500 years or so, attempting to discern what constitutes a good argument, but our minds more easily grasp the visual and so argumentation maps are a great form of knowledge generation and transfer – a non-expert can see what the essence of a debate is and what the experts think and disagree about.

Here is a good site that offers a tutorial on how to construct an argument map, including some practical exercises; and here is a link to a comprehensive list of tools for argument mapping, and the related techniques of concept and mind mapping.

I leave you with a photo of Taro. I don’t think anyone would argue that this is one cute pup :)-

April 13, 2007 at 3:00 am 4 comments

Think! don’t Blink!

Steps NicaraguaI’ve had a bit of fun over the last week with posts on ancient perfumes and Dino the Dinosaur, so time now for some serious reflection.

A number of synchronicites have happened over the last week or so, which have led me to reflect on critical thinking. Warning: this is a VERY LONG post, so if you’re not interested in thinking about critical thinking, don’t read any further.

I usually have a stack of 4 to 5 books I’m reading on the go. I had just polished off Th!nk by Michael LeGault when I realised I was also half way through Simon Blackburn’s book Think – synchronicity No 1, two books with the same title. LeGault’s Th!nk is a targeted critique of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. Its full title is Th!nk: Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye. Blackburn’s book explores the central concerns of philosophy: what is knowledge; what is consciousness etc aka the Big Questions of Life that get us thinking (and a very fine philosopher he is too, I highly recommend the book).

Synchronicity No 2 occurred when a student in one of the University courses I teach asked me “what is critical thinking?”. And synchronicity No 3 was the result of a recent post I did on the evidence against global warming, where the NY Times linked to my post (in their Sphere Related Blogs & Articles section (thanks!) following an article outlining scientists’ concerns over Gore’s central arguments. In that post, I wanted to examine for myself what the evidence might be against global warming. I did this for my own purposes, to educate myself more on what I truly believe is going to be a dark time ahead – climate change, struggles over water, food shortages.

I’m a great fan of Al Gore. I think he’s done a tremendous job of raising the profile of an issue that needs to be critically and urgently explored. I was a tad concerned though that my post (intended as it was to simply explore the anti-climate change stance) might contribute, in whatever small way, to the argument against climate change. Let me make it clear: I firmly believe we are in the midst of a future climate crisis.

But these synchronicites conflated to the point that I’ve been thinking about critical thinking for the past week. This post is simply exploratory and will no doubt contain flawed thinking – but this is all a part of the critical thinking process.

I very much liked Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point; I can’t say I liked Blink, basically because I think it emphasised to the point of irritation the notion that our minds possess a subconscious ability to soak up large amounts of information and, through intuition, gut instinct etc, correctly size up a situation or solve a problem- without burdening the brain with analytical thinking. There are more serious attempts than Gladwell’s showing the power of intuition,with Gary Klein’s work coming immediately to mind. So I’m not about to dispute the contribution of expert intuition in the critical thinking process because I do believe that emotion and intuition have their part to play (albeit perhaps on the surface level).

But LeGault’s Th!nk raised some very interesting observations I’ve been pondering:

  • perhaps there is a mythology that has sprung up over the last few years about the power of first impressions, which has led to more emphasis on snap judgements and fast decisions at the expense of formal thinking skills. Intuition, emotion and gut instinct have possibly been separated from the holistic and interwoven cognitive skills involved in thinking and reasoning; and they’ve become akin to popular New Age beliefs.
  • we are bombarded daily by infoglut and the 24/7 pressures of contemporary life: snap judgements have become the norm.
  • the rise of highly paid consultants and specialists points to us allowing these ‘experts’ to do the thinking for us.
  • there has been a decline of logic and reasoning in today’s society, which seems to be more interested in the banality of reality TV.
  • we prefer the easy and thought-free.
  • the Age of Reason has become the Age of Intuition.

Have we indeed lost the art of critical thinking? Penn State lecturer, John Bardi, in a 2001 essay said: “Having been a college teacher for more than twenty-five years, I see much to celebrate in the current generation of students. However, if I limit my attention to the intellectual qualities I see displayed in my classes, then it seems students are getting worse every year with the current crop being the worst ever….many students today lack the critical thinking skills necessary for higher learning“. And LeGault lays the blame for the continuing deterioration of thinking ability squarely at the feet of the education system in the US.

What exactly is critical thinking and why worry about it? My own view is that it’s a form of knowledge generation – from facts and observations, critical thinkers, through mental activity and intellectual discipline, carefully analyse and evaluate information. This process involves reflecting on and examining evidence, observations, information, facts and propositions and arriving at the most reasonable, objective and justifiable position on an issue.

Critical thinking is responsible thinking. It is not based on a personal bias or a stubborn belief in a particular position. It is not intentionally setting out to find flaws or fault; nor is it about being skeptical, but it is about being a healthy skeptic. Critical thinking is free inquiry, which results in relevant and reliable knowledge about the world – that’s why I refer to it as a form of knowledge generation. After examining an issue from every angle, you arrive at an objective and rationale version of the truth or as close to the truth as possible. Critical thinking is the scientific method, applied by ordinary people to the ordinary world. And it involves sense-making and pattern recognition, but it also involves asking probing questions about the reliability of the pattern observed or the sense of a story told.

To be a responsible citizen of a democratic society implies that individuals will use critical thinking skills to play a deciding role in governance. To do this, citizens must be able to openly discuss, debate and critique issues and ideas in order to examine them critically. Critical thinking is therefore the foundation of democracy and contributes to the public discourse.

But it seems that critical thinking has become marginalised in a society that embraces the immediate; the disposable; the 30 second sound byte; the Hollywood celebrity; and the banal. We seem to have become a society that needs to be constantly entertained and distracted in the midst of a barren intellectual life. LeGault makes the interesting observation that we have become a society so accustomed to the most surreal rationalisations of behaviour or viewpoints being given instant credibility we have lost the ability to arrive at our own understanding of the truth. And so we accept egalitarian knowledge or the dumbed-down version or the lowest common denominator knowledge or the “whatever” – because then we all feel comfortable in a society that worships consensus-seeking.

I think we’ve all seen the gradual lowering of standards particularly for Universities that once required a very high entrance mark for courses like medicine or law. The result has perhaps been a culture of mediocrity, rather than one which aspires to excellence and critical thought.

LeGault suggests that political-correctness (PC) has a part to play in the sorry tale of the decline of critical thinking. Equating PC with the threat of legal action, he refers to it as the unspoken menace, the “Terror of our Time”, which sets out the rules for the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ way to think. The replacement of rigorous thought with behaviour modification.

There is no doubt that critical thinking is hard work and a life-long journey. Practise makes perfect and the skill of critical thinking is no exception – it requires practise. And if I were to practise what I’ve been talking about, then I should try to apply critical thinking to the notion of Critical Thinking.

Here’s my thoughts so far: it is not an either/or position we should be taking but a both/and. Critical thinking applies the scientific method (observation and description of phenomena; hypothesis to explain phenomena; test hypothesis; analyse results and draw conclusions re hypothesis being true, partially true or false). The scientific method is a modernist project; part of the modernist paradigm, with its rigour, formalism, reliance on inner logic, the importance of truth and abstract reasoning, linearity, order, a grand narrative etc.

Postmodernism – a critique of modernism – is an intellectual movement or set of ideas, which rejects modernity’s rigour and instead emphasises pastiche, parody, playfulness. Postmodernism is about self-consciousness and self-awareness, narcissism and nihilism, ambiguity, diversity, fragmentation, multiple narratives and truth that is fluid. Trust in the scientific method gives way to the notion that reality is a social construction or a story; and the individual is a boundaryless self in a boundaryless world. Knowledge is constructed in the minds of people; not discovered independently through scientific investigation.

In a condition in which individuals are divisible rather than indivisible, there is a search for identity or a sense of the self. Hence, I would suggest, books like Blink, which emphasise the inner self – gut instinct, emotional intelligence, intuition, sense-making – are attempting to reclaim (or rediscover) the subjective that Modernity ignored or suppressed.

The postmodern condition rejected the scientific method and therefore, to a large extent, rejected critical thinking and its reliance on rigour and formality. Critical thinking lost flavour. Rigour and formality do not sit well with our eclectic contemporary society, but as postmodernism embraces the both/and, Critical Thinking needs to embrace both the scientific/Modernist paradigm AND the postmodernist paradigm, which allows space for the importance of emotions.

So…I think maybe LeGault’s book, as good as it is, has forced itself into the either/or camp. Phew….I need a good lie down now!

I am still navigating my way through all this and my ideas will no doubt change; but I’ve found some good resources to help improve critical thinking. Here is a website that offers a Critical Thinking Curriculum; you can find Critical Thinking Mini-Lessons here; Tim van Gelder’s really good article on teaching critical thinking is here; for loads of resources go to LibraryThing.

I’ll continue my explorations in future posts – once I’ve done some more critical thinking!

April 11, 2007 at 2:00 am 3 comments


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