Your Stance on Teaching Critical Thinking

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Accountable, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Accountable

    Accountable Companion

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    From the Texas Republican Party Platform:
    http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/20...pdf?docID=3201

    That's fine that they don't want outcome-based education, but critical thinking skills are, well, critical to good judgment, innovation, scientific exploration, etc etc etc.
     
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  3. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification)

    HOTS and values clarification are completely different things. Values clarification was big in the 60s and 70s. Values Clarification books are all out of print and most teachers not only don't use it, but probably know little about it.

    Sounds like they need some education of what HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) really is. This shows how politics can really get in the way of education.
     
  4. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Ohhhhhhhh, Texas. :rolleyes:

    Children definitely need critical thinking skills. :whistle: And soft skills like perseverance. I believe it is the school's job to teach all of these skills so that students are well-rounded individuals.
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    So the war on intellect is already happening. We don't want the children to think for themselves lest they end up more intelligent than their parents or have different views from their parents.

    Honestly stances like these are some of the reasons why nobody takes the GOP seriously anymore.
     
  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    That is basically the worst written proposal I've seen on educational reform (or opposition to reform). It seems to show a number of uneducated positions all wrapped up into one beautiful sentence :).
     
  7. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    I googled "values clarification education" but I can't find a good explanation. What is it?
     
  8. Accountable

    Accountable Companion

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    Partly because of this, but mostly because our student just don't think well, I joined with another teacher to start a critical thinking club to discuss current events & controversial issues. I'm a bit concerned that admin didn't approve our request right away. It's been almost a week.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I googled "values clarification education" but I can't find a good explanation. What is it?

    Values Clarification Education was started in the late 1960's although I might be a few years off. It basically started with the thought that what was wrong with middle and high schoolers were not that they had wrong values, but that they had no values. They then came up with lots of fun group activities where middle schoolers would give their opinions on scenarios that required moral values. All answers were basically okay. The problem was that middle and high school students sometimes came up with answers that were not very kind or rather "immoral". These varied to sometimes being racist, not tolerating others, or lack of concern for others. Teachers had to allow these answers and treat them as okay. Parents had a fit over this type of instruction. By 1990 nearly all character education programs had rejected these and came up with programs that promoted certain common held values such as honesty, tolerance, and kindness. One example of this different type of character instruction was "Character Counts".

    About 20 years ago, I did pick up a Values Education book for about $2 at a used book sale that had lots of activities. A few activities looked good, but most were ones that I could see how parents would be concerned.
     
  10. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Admin shouldn't approve your request, in my opinion. You can certainly teach critical thinking skills without using current events and controversial issues of the day. This is exactly what they want to avoid because all too often these discussions try to sway students in the direction of the moderator.

    I don't believe public school is the place to discuss controversial issues. Teach critical thinking skills and the students can discuss what they want with their parents/guardians without the school staff determining what "controversial issues" are worth discussing.

    When I went to public school critical thinking skills were taught as part of the curriculum. It was started in elementary school working on connections between information, why, and what if a piece of information was changed type of questions and continued with more difficult subject matter in history, science, and English classes. The teachers didn't use controversial subject matter to teach these skills. There is really no need.
     
  11. Accountable

    Accountable Companion

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    Moderating will be done by the students themselves.

    Since critical thinking isn't being taught in school, and isn't likely to be, what do you suggest we discuss that will draw students to come after school?
     
  12. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Thanks, readingrules12! That's a great description.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Maybe the discussion you should be having with the administrator is how to teach critical thinking within the classrooms. That way all students will get the education they deserve.

    I applaud your desire to help students learn to think critically, but it is possible that students will come to have a bash-fest on controversial subjects instead of critical thinking skills. Also, if the students are moderating themselves, then where is the teaching of critical thinking skills? What can be done for the student that absolutely doesn't want to participate in the controversial discussion that is rehashed every week? Discussions in and of themselves do not necessarily lend themselves to critical thinking. I've heard many discussions that involved no critical thinking whatsoever.

    Now, speech and debate teams lend themselves to critical thinking. Critical thinking is directly taught in these clubs. However, these clubs tend to have students that already have some developed critical thinking skills.
     
  14. Accountable

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    Right. I'm aiming for those who might not have the skills for debate team. I overstated in saying that the student would moderate. More accurately, the students would run the meeting as much as possible. The sponsors would coach the presenters (two each meeting) and provide guidance when necessary. Of course more guidance would be necessary early on, tapering to a minimum as the club norms develop.

    I understand & agree that CT should be taught at all levels in all classes, but you read the OP, and we have largely a Republican gov't. The admin's hands might be tied. Regardless, I think the club would be a good supplement. It's high school. We have four years to make responsible adults. Responsible adults have to face controversial issues.
     
  15. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I don't see how admin's hands would be tied to have teachers teach critical thinking skills. As I said, growing up our schools did so without bringing morality, values, etc into the mix. They used the curriculum. Choosing the right breed of a dog for sheep hearding requires critical thinking. Understanding why farmers rotate crops and the various problems that would happen if they don't can all be used to develop critical thinking skills. Deciding which chemicals could cause certain reactions and why requires critical thinking. It all depends on how the information is taught and used within the classroom. Coming up with potential outcomes to readings requires critical thinking skills and evaluating the information based on accuracy and strength. But I digress.

    These kids that aren't up to being on a top Speech and Debate team could be in a club that utilizes the same exercises at a lower level but utilizes non-controversial subject matter to do so.
     
  16. Accountable

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    The students would be choosing the topics to discuss. I doubt that picking the right dog or rotating crops is high on their interest scale.
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Those examples were because you said due to republican stance you didn't feel that critical thinking could be taught in the classroom. Depending on the course, non-controversial issues such as those mentioned but not necessarily those issues per-se, would be acceptable to the "republicans". My point was, critical thinking can be developed without controversial issues being raised. While thoese examples may not apply in the Texas curriculum, there are other topics that are at about the same level for controversy that can be use in the classroom to create critical thinking skills.

    As for your after-school program, if it is the topics that are drawing the students, chances are they won't be there to learn critical thinking skills but to argue (non-critically) about their opinions or to use you and your club to make their parents upset if the parents think that controversial issues should not be discussed in the school. Neither are things that are beneficial to the students in my opinion.
     
  18. Cerek

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    Current events are a big part of many social studies classes, but you want teachers to teach critical thinking while avoiding the issues that are most relevant to CT skills?

    I can certainly teach my math students how to think about our material critically and apply the knowledge to more complicated problems, but that isn't going to carry over into applying critical thinking to a news story or a discussion on LGBT rights. Those could possibly be covered in a social studies class, but not if the teacher is restricted from discussing current events and controversial topics.

    In fact, controversial topics are only "controversial" because people have strong opinions on them and aren't willing to consider a different viewpoint. If we eliminate topics that are "controversial", we are left only with topics on which most people agree. If we all agree on an issue, then there isn't any need for a discussion and, if it were discussed, there wouldn't be any critical thinking involved.

    The issue I see is that kids today are inundated with a LOT more information than those of previous generations, but they haven't developed the ability to filter all of that information through critical analysis. Many adults have not developed this skill either. As you said yourself, you've seen many conversations that don't involve any critical thinking.

    So exactly when are students supposed to learn how to discuss these topics and listen to differing views with respect? You warn that adult moderators may try to sway the conversation towards their own view, but you also warn kids don't have the ability to moderate the conversations effectively without it turning into a "bash-fest". Those are valid concerns, but I would hope the adults who are willing to sponsor such a club are also professional enough to model the neutrality expected of moderators. The only way the students will learn those skills is by seeing them practiced by adults.
     
  19. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    That wasn't written by Republicans - it was written by idiots. A real Republican would greatly encourage teaching critical thinking to encourage students to question everything the liberal media throws at them constantly.

    I say this as someone who thinks most Republicans are too liberal.
     
  20. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Interesting that you feel that controversial current events are most revelevant to teaching critical thinking skills when for generations students learned to think critically without discussing many issues that were taboo because they were too controversial.

    I want teachers to teach critical thinking skills by utilizing subject matter that isn't deemed inappropriate school subject matter. It can be done. It has been done for generations. We never discussed controversial subjects in my public high school. Yet, we did learn to think critically.

    I never said no current events. Not sure who generalized it to that level, but certain current events are too controversial for class discussions in public schools. LGBT is one of them. Again, people can learn to think critically about anything if they are taught how to think critically about matters in the curriculum. What they might not learn is how to discern falsehoods in the media. However, a good language course and rhetoric course will teach students to recognize different fallacies that come to play in arguements/discussions.

    I disagree to some extent. Some issues are controversial because certain subjects are determined to be family issues. Issues that involve morality and sexuality have typically been issues that are for the family, not the school. However, school has stepped in in some capacity. However, in these areas families still have the right to opt-out from having their chidren participate in these areas of extra instruction.

    I agree they have been inundated with a lot more information aobut many more subjects than previous generations. Critical analysis of information regardless of whether it is controversial is the same. How does one prove a comment is a logical arguement based on fact? That requires research and a large body of knowledge as well as a strong grasp of language and persuasive techniques. Again, this does not need to be the type of controversial subjects that are deemed too controversial for school.

    By discussing any topic with respect will teach students how to have discussion with respect for others. There will always be those no matter what subject matter that will get heated because they want to be right even if the discussion is not a taboo subject for school.

    I don't see why a topic such as LGBT or other subjects need to be used to teach these skills.
     
  21. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    :clap:
     
  22. Peregrin5

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    I don't see why not.

    Regardless of if you think it is a family issue or not, the issue has spilled out into the societal conversation. It's no longer an issue of private morality but rather one of rights and a statement of our legal and civil rights environment here in the United States. You're not going to be able to hide it from students, not with all the students talking about it anyway, with the internet, and major news stations all running the latest stories on the issue.

    I agree with Cerek about what he said makes things controversial. It is because people are too afraid to talk about it because strong opinions fly.

    Solutions will only be reached when we are able to talk about these issues openly.
     
  23. Accountable

    Accountable Companion

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    Very well-stated! Thank you.

    Yes. I have a Masters in Human Resource development and taught leadership development while in the military. My co-sponsor currently teaches court systems and principles of law.
     
  24. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    That is a biased statement that implies a solution doesn't already exist. That is the kind of critical thinking our kids need to learn. How to see when people are deciding the issues based on their own personal interpretation of events like you just did.

    I'll state again that the platform wording is ridiculous but it is far more ridiculous to equate discussing controversial issues with the platform and moreso so assume teachers would do so fairly.

    Our school just had a mock election and we had numerous teachers flat out tell kids how to vote and why they'd be terrible to do otherwise.
     
  25. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    The problem with your interpretation is that you believe solutions exist even though others don't agree with them and will not take it upon themselves to begin said solution. A solution that does not get implemented is not a solution. It is a half-assed possibly bad idea.

    I am talking about solutions in the sense that sometimes we need to discuss and compromise to get to a solution that works for everyone and that almost everyone can accept.

    This is the kind of critical thinking our students need to learn. Not to have on opinion and stick to it like a stubborn a$$ and ignore all facts and evidence to the contrary.
     
  26. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    So, a solution only exists if everyone (or almost everyone) agrees with it? How is that critical thinking?

    "Kids, critical thinking is sharing the idea that most other people share - no matter what it is. If too many people disagree with you clearly you are wrong."

    But hey, if that makes me stubborn, I'll take it.
     
  27. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    One of the primary uses of critical thinking is to come to a solution social issues, and one that would be an even compromise between the different sides that all can accept.

    Honestly I don't see how I've "decided an issue based on on my own personal interpretation of events" or even how that relates at all to anything I posted.

    I don't know why you decided to attack my post with such a bizarrely unrelated claim, but I guess it sort of did elicit the emotional response you were looking for since my natural defensiveness caused me to respond to you in the way that I did.

    Still the kind of pigheadedness that you're displaying right now is exactly why it is so difficult to come to solutions between the two party system in the US. I anticipate that your "solutions" for the LGBT issue probably involve 1)ignoring their plea for marriage and equal rights, 2)sending them all to reparative therapy, or 3)something involving concentration camps? I have no idea, but when a person touts a "solution" without bothering to make sure it works for everyone that person is not likely to get far with anyone.

    It's one of the reasons the Tea Party and the flaming Liberal sides are mocked left and right these days because they display the exact type of mentality that you are displaying right now.
     
  28. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Because school is not a place to indoctrinate children on controversial societal issues.

    I do find it a bit amusing though that you think it is perfectly fine to talk about LGBT in school as a way to teach discussion and thinking skills. I'm sitting here giggling seeing 2 sides to this. I expect you would not be happy about how the discussion goes in some schools, particularly the very conservative schools where the conclusions drawn may be far different than in a more liberal school.

    Being that I think it is a family discussion or an out-of-school discussion (not a school club).
     
  29. Peregrin5

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    I honestly couldn't care less about the conclusions students draw, as long as they are weighing the facts and the evidence and drawing conclusions. This is the point of critical thinking, to teach thinking, not to "indoctrinate children on controversial societal issues" as you say.

    If a teacher is doing that, then they are obviously teaching critical thinking incorrectly.

    Rather I think indoctrination is what happens when you refuse to speak about a subject and instead force students to take the words of their parents or other elders on issues rather than coming to their own conclusions about things.
     
  30. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I was about to say the same thing, Peregrin.

    Creating a mandate in state government that children will NOT be taught to think critically about issues for themselves is much closer to the definition of indoctrination than encouraging them to research issues and look at ALL sides of an issue.

    I find it odd that you and RockGuy automatically assume teachers will use critical thinking exercises to dominate the discussions and force their own views on the kids when the easiest way for teachers to do this is to NOT teach or encourage critical thinking in their students.

    When a state government officially restricts and prevents schools from teaching critical thinking, they are giving schools, admins and teachers implicit consent to do exactly that - present your own view and don't let the kids question it.
     
  31. Accountable

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    Well said.

    I think the Repub party is making the same assumption you describe in your second paragraph. While it is difficult to avoid inserting your own strong opinions of an issue during one of these exercises, it can be done and becomes easier with practice - as long as you are aware (and critical) of yourself and have a partner who is willing to tell you when you slip.

    BTW, I just got the go-ahead from my principal. Now I have to learn the procedure for actually setting up the club.
     
  32. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I stated very clearly that the party platform is idiotic and critical thinking should be taught in my very first post. I then pointed out that teaching critical thinking is not analogous to discussing controversial social issues in the classroom.

    I've actually taught critical thinking/argument units (in fact we are at the end of one right now) and they are based on classical argument constructions, fallacies, and how to discuss any issue. Not once did I need to bring in social issues that could get my administration in trouble.

    Finally, far from assuming, I proved my assertion with evidence. It just happened at my school. I believe teachers could teach a designed, classical, critical thinking curriculum - and should - but I don't believe that most teachers are willing to keep their own views out of the discussion.
     
  33. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Dec 6, 2012

    :agreed:
     
  34. Accountable

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    I agree, we should teach a class. We don't, so I'm going with this alternative. Hopefully I can use what we learn to convince the school to add a CT class.

    Wish me luck.
     
  35. bondo

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    Oh, boy. If anything, kids should be taught critical thinking over subject content. In the information age, we can find anything out instantly. Critical thinking takes practice, time, and effort.
     

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