Who are you? and What's your IQ?

Pages

AuthorTopic: Who are you? and What's your IQ?
Shock Trooper
Member # 4214
Profile #200
Statistics evidenced that education stimulates the pallium slightly.

However, I believe that few people would not be increasing the activity of their cerebral cortex without instructions, by self-education.

[ Monday, June 06, 2005 21:01: Message edited by: Inferior ]
Posts: 356 | Registered: Tuesday, April 6 2004 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #201
Perhaps not under recent popes.

--------------------
It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
This Side Towards Enemy
Member # 3098
Profile #202
I'd be opposed to actively being taught critical thinking. For one thing it's simply not that interesting to me. I'd far rather spend my three years learning about the factors influencing the rise of the Vikings than being actively taught how to analyse. The one should come packaged with the other. Why remove the palliative?

For another, I simply don't think it'd be effective. Firstly because I think I already have a degree of critical thinking skills. No doubt I could improve them, but if you start to teach them from a basic level, I am not going to be making relevant notes. I am going to be dozing, or staring into space, or trying to work out what makes dead baby jokes funny, or whatever my mind drifts on to. Secondly because teaching things in the abstract can leave the student confused when they have to face it in real terms. It may leave them straitjacketed - highly effective in very specific circumstances, but unable to properly adapt.

--------------------
Voice of Reasonable Morality
Posts: 961 | Registered: Thursday, June 12 2003 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #203
I don't see that this first point has anything to do with teaching critical thinking. It's just pointing out how dismal it is to sit through any course pitched too low for you. The only thing that will keep you focused is a course at your own level, whether the topic is Vikings or critical thinking or anything else.

The second point is indeed a potential pitfall. Ought to be avoidable, though. No reason teaching critical thinking has to be done entirely in the abstract.

In general it would be more helpful for me if people would distinguish comments about the principle of teaching critical thinking on purpose rather than by accident, from comments about teaching critical thinking badly. Pointing out pitfalls to avoid is one thing, but condemning the whole idea because you've thought of a pitfall is kind of jumping the gun, unless you can give a good argument why the pitfall cannot possibly be avoided.

[ Monday, June 06, 2005 15:42: Message edited by: Student of Trinity ]

--------------------
It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
This Side Towards Enemy
Member # 3098
Profile #204
How exactly do you propose to teach critical thinking to a large group without starting from a lower level than many of the group are already capable of? And how do you intend to teach high-level critical thinking without specialisation and maintain the interest of your audience?

--------------------
Voice of Reasonable Morality
Posts: 961 | Registered: Thursday, June 12 2003 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #205
Ah, now these are good questions.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'without specialization'. Do you mean, without teaching some specific subject matter? If so, I'm not sure that has to be a constraint, anyway. Taking some specific material of some sort, maybe using a case study kind of approach, might well be the way to go. The point is not necessarily to teach critical thinking without teaching anything else, just to make the critical thinking content deliberate instead of haphazard.

As to the problem of level range: I think I take your point. It's true that the same problem exists in principle for any subject matter -- a course on viking history can attract people who have read original sagas and people who have never even read Hagar the Horrible. But the range of levels of prior mastery may well be greater for critical thinking than for non-meta-subjects like viking history. And if necessary you can let people skip the intro to viking history course, and go directly to the senior seminar, if they pass a written test. Doing this for critical thinking might require creating a better test than anything we currently have.

Maybe not, though. Maybe the range of levels of critical thinking skills is not actually as great as one might think. Or maybe a good 'testing out' procedure could be found.

Or maybe one would just have to have quite limited class sizes, so the range problems weren't so bad. A lot of college courses are taught in small classes, even for large enrollment freshman courses. This is managed by having grad students as instructors, but that can work out fine.

--------------------
It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #206
I am still somewhat confuzed about what you consider to be "critical thinking" and how you plan to teach it. Could you, or somebody else, give an example.

--------------------
Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #207
Well, I'm confused, too. The main problem is that critical thinking is a lot like common sense. Yet, unlike common sense, professors and universities regularly do justify their existences by claiming to teach critical thinking. And graduates regularly rejoice in having learned it. So it seems that it can be both taught and learned, and it's worth doing that.

But on the other hand, I can state pretty confidently that hardly any college level instructors actually plan courses or teach them with the conscious goal of teaching critical thinking. So is it some Zen archery kind of thing, that you can only learn unconsciously? Maybe; but I'd like to at least hesitate a while before leaping to that conclusion.

So, here's a grab bag of the kinds of things I'd like to try to bundle together in the cause of pumping up critical thinking.

-- Classic logic paradoxes (Prisoner's Dilemma, Unexpected Hanging, Three Door Gameshow, etc.)
-- Precis writing. Summarize long texts in absurd brevity.
-- Proofs and Refutations by Imre Lakatos. Ostensibly about Euler's Theorem on polyhedra, it is really about the nature of mathematical reasoning.
-- Some collection of widely divergent texts on some controversial historical episode, like maybe the battle of Waterloo.
-- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, maybe thrown up against stuff by Paul Feyrabend.
-- Other stuff (gotta leave to go get my daughter from her preschool).

--------------------
It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #208
Thanks for the clarification. Some of the things you've listed would make pretty fun classes that I wish I could have taken when I was in college.

quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:


...
So, here's a grab bag of the kinds of things I'd like to try to bundle together in the cause of pumping up critical thinking.

-- Classic logic paradoxes (Prisoner's Dilemma, Unexpected Hanging, Three Door Gameshow, etc.)

These are fun. In fact, they were the most fun part of some of my classes. I wouldn't mind taking a full class of these. However, not everybody likes logic puzzles.

quote:
-- Precis writing. Summarize long texts in absurd brevity.
Never tried this. Is this supposed to teach people to stop using long paragraphs to describe things that can be described in 1 sentence? If so, this should be a required class. :)

quote:
-- Proofs and Refutations by Imre Lakatos. Ostensibly about Euler's Theorem on polyhedra, it is really about the nature of mathematical reasoning.
Similar to any upper division math class? For students who are scared of the word "math", you could probably replace this with non-math related examples of long chains of reasoning. (For example whodunit type of puzzles, where you have to use a few clues to reconstruct a matrix of information.)

quote:
-- Some collection of widely divergent texts on some controversial historical episode, like maybe the battle of Waterloo.
Trying to make students sufficiently cynical? :) After having the experience of history classes in Russian school during collapse of USSR (where the same teacher in the same classroom taught us the opposite viewpoints during 2 consecutive years), I suggest you go easy on these. A healthy dose of cynicism is good, but you don't want students who don't believe anything they hear.

quote:
-- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, maybe thrown up against stuff by Paul Feyrabend.
...

I haven't read this, so I don't know what it is.

--------------------
Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #209
quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:

quote:
-- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, maybe thrown up against stuff by Paul Feyrabend.
...

I haven't read this, so I don't know what it is.

Short, wildly inaccurate pop-culture summary:

Once scientists are set in a career path they develop a way of thinking about things that they'll rarely let go of. New scientists sometimes discover things that are ignored by the establishment because they can't be made to fit into old paradigms. Progress therefore depends on old scientists dying off over time.

--------------------
My BoE Page
Bandwagons are fun!
Roots
Hunted!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
This Side Towards Enemy
Member # 3098
Profile #210
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

-- Some collection of widely divergent texts on some controversial historical episode, like maybe the battle of Waterloo.
That, to all intents and purposes, is a history course. And to properly analyse, you need a lot of background knowledge. My synoptic paper for history revolves around the idea of taking a collection of sources, analysing them taking into account own knowledge and coming to a balanced and logically robust conclusion. But without a vast amount of background knowledge any argument you put forward is going to brushed aside as if it were made of dust. This is the sort of example I was thinking of when I pointed out that it's phenomenally hard to teach in the abstract.

I've no doubt you could fit in enough detail to do this to a reasonable level. However you'd need to do this for every area of the course, which would eat up time and stop students picking the area they like and concentrating on it. This is why I'd hate taking the International Baccalaureate and prefer the British university course system to the American (in principle, I've yet to try either in practice.) If I want to study Latin and Ancient Greek, I should be able to do that rather than have to take a science subject I have little interest in or need for. If I want to go to university to study Dark Age England, I should be able to do that rather than having to take courses on the nature of logic, where I may already use the basic principles without even thinking about it because they're obvious (or part of GCSE maths) and I may not need any more. The smarter students should pick up critical thinking on their own, by and large. The occasional bit of assistance might not go amiss but I simply don't see the point of deliberately teaching it to any great extent.

--------------------
Voice of Reasonable Morality
Posts: 961 | Registered: Thursday, June 12 2003 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #211
SoT, what you're describing sounds a lot like breadth requirements. As far as I know, most colleges and universities (Brown and Amherst being the two exceptions I'm aware of) have breadth requirements already, although not to those precise specifications.

All you'd have to do is change a few breadth reqs here and there and you'd have the system you're talking about.

--------------------
Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #212
I think that the gen. ed. curriculum at my school (with the exception of the anthro course) greatly added to my educational development as an analytical thinker. While concentration in one topic area is great, branching out into other disciplines fosters adaptive ability, which arguably is the most important of all skills for the analytical mind.
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
This Side Towards Enemy
Member # 3098
Profile #213
Surely you should have been able to do that at high school, however. I'm not saying that students can't branch out if they feel like it, but earlier in education they undoubtedly will have done to some degree so if they want to use university to specialise, that option should also be available.

--------------------
Voice of Reasonable Morality
Posts: 961 | Registered: Thursday, June 12 2003 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #214
I don't think you can really compare high school with uni coursework on a general level. The quality of high school courses is low compared to university-level course offerings, especially with regard to what is expected of students, and likely what they come away with. This was certainly the case for me, although my high school educational experience was quite good.

This goes back to the old argument over whether a liberal arts education is superior to specialization in a field. I am a fierce advocate for the former.

[ Thursday, June 09, 2005 09:13: Message edited by: Andrew Miller ]
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #215
Hmmm. Breadth would seem to be a necessary condition for what I'm after, but not a sufficient one. Though maybe all that's missing is the awareness of exercising a common faculty across the broad range of subjects.

I mean, it would be possible to take a liberal arts education as a garage sale of factoids. Usually people do eventually come to some synergistic reflection on the whole; but the system doesn't explicitly encourage this, at least not as much as I think it should.

--------------------
It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #216
I agree - it's definitely a bit hit and miss. How many things are there in life that aren't though?

One factor for what I perceive to be the high percentage of "misses" in fostering the analytical mind through the liberal arts education is the fact that education is so watered down and commercialized these days. Back in the day, schools were set up to weed people out, not provide a "service." The folks graduating then had degrees that really meant something. Nowadays, folks can graduate with a B.A. in business management or somesuch, without hardly showing up to class at all.
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #217
Student of Trinity, have you heard of St. John's College in Annapolis? I think they may be at least attempting what you're after. They go by a "Great Books" curriculum, and in science that includes people who are now scientifically discredited, but students are forced to consider only that scientist's experimental data, etc., and must make a sincere effort to understand the scientist's reasoning, instead of dismissing it automically because "we know now that that was wrong." The nature of the search for truth and of knowledge itself are big things at St. John's.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #218
quote:
Originally written by PoD person:

They go by a "Great Books" curriculum, and in science that includes people who are now scientifically discredited, but students are forced to consider only that scientist's experimental data, etc., and must make a sincere effort to understand the scientist's reasoning, instead of dismissing it automically because "we know now that that was wrong."
I'd rather like to see more exploration of scientists being right for the wrong reasons as well. Thinking specifically of Millikan here, although there are plenty of other examples involving a greater or lesser degree of deliberate misconduct.

--------------------
My BoE Page
Bandwagons are fun!
Roots
Hunted!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #219
I guess I like the way the Great Books program does see college education as a whole. But I despise its presumption that the only appropriate whole is a badly dated and ideologically tilted western canon, and I find its approach to science ludicrous.

It is by no means a bad thing to learn scientific reasoning by seeing how now-discredited theories were good solutions in their days. But doing that at the expense of learning, as best we now can, how the universe actually works, is ridiculous.

And it is the nature of science that the original expression of an idea is never nearly as good as the refined view that emerges decades later. Trying to learn modern natural science by reading only the great books of the originating scientists is handicapping oneself enormously. Newton, Maxwell and Einstein all died before many of the most profound aspects of the theories they created were understood by anyone.

The fact that the Great Books programs don't recognize this betrays their basic misunderstanding of what science is about. Einstein is not the ultimate authority on Einsteinian relativity: mathematics and experiment, which are open to anyone, can overrule Einstein's own attitudes at any time. So the scientific Great Books are of historical, not scientific, interest.

As far as I'm concerned, natural science is simply a huge counterexample to the fundamentally conservative ideology on which the Great Books idea of education is based. In science old is bad and new is good, period. Great Books people just can't accept that, so they put up a bogus conservative substitute for science.

--------------------
It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
...b10010b...
Member # 869
Profile Homepage #220
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

In science old is bad and new is good, period.
You do not, of course, literally mean that this applies in every case. Nine times out of ten, someone trying to overturn major ideas about how the world works is just an annoying crank. (The argument could be made that most of science's great minds were cranks who happened to be right, but I'll leave that for another day.)

I think what you were driving at is that the currently-established scientific consensus tends to consist mostly of relatively recent ideas, to a far greater extent than in other fields.

[ Friday, June 10, 2005 06:54: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

--------------------
My BoE Page
Bandwagons are fun!
Roots
Hunted!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #221
In saying that 'in science, old is bad and new is good', I meant 'science' to refer only to work accepted as such by the competetent scientific community. Among those merely claiming to have made revolutionary discoveries, crackpots outnumber great scientists by a lot more than 9 to 1.

I used to have a sort of soft spot for crackpots. I enjoyed flipping through the volumes they donate to college science libraries, which are sometimes quite beautifully produced. I corresponded patiently with a few by e-mail.

Eventually the penny dropped that these guys are not interested in science at all, but only in being great scientists. Crackpots are often clever, but they are motivated predominantly by egotism instead of curiosity. That is how I distinguish crackpots from scientists with radical ideas.

--------------------
It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #222
quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

In science old is bad and new is good, period.
You do not, of course, literally mean that this applies in every case. Nine times out of ten, someone trying to overturn major ideas about how the world works is just an annoying crank. (The argument could be made that most of science's great minds were cranks who happened to be right, but I'll leave that for another day.)

I think what you were driving at is that the currently-established scientific consensus tends to consist mostly of relatively recent ideas, to a far greater extent than in other fields.

From what I've seen of "other fields", the "old is always bad and new is always good" approach is even more true for them. In social "science", everybody goes with fascionable ideas of the day and anybody who disagrees is a target of personal attacks. In arts, every generation tries to be more "modern" than the previous generation, leading to the kind of works that can be appreciated only by other students of the same schools.

I guess the problem with non-scientific fields is that while in hard sciences there is objective reality to which you can compare all the theories to sort crackpots away from genue discoveries, there is no objective standart of truth in social "science", so any theory that can become popular is equally legitimate.

[ Friday, June 10, 2005 08:02: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

--------------------
Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #223
From the peroration to "Under which lyre", by W.H. Auden:
quote:

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.

The whole poem is great:
http://www.poemhunter.com/p/m/poem.asp?poet=6570&poem=32427

--------------------
It is not enough to discover how things seem to seem. We must discover how things really seem.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #224
Nice. :)

The eternal struggle between artistic rebels and soul-less establishment.

I thought Hermes is god of trade and Apollon god of beauty, so why does the author call his rebels supporters of Hermes and the establishment supporters of Apollon? (Or did I misunderstood which is which?)

[ Friday, June 10, 2005 08:54: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

--------------------
Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00

Pages