Blog Post: [Part 4, Final] The Critical Thinking Movement in Historical Perspective

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Jun 06, 2022 • 2y ago
[Part 4, Final] The Critical Thinking Movement in Historical Perspective

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 3? "},{"attributes":{"underline":true,"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n\n\nOne final sobering thought. When, between 1917 and 1934, inductees into the armed forces were systematically tested using the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Army Alpha Tests"},{"insert":" (an I.Q. test based on the Stanford Benet) It was estimated that the average U.S. citizen was probably somewhere between 13 or 14 years of age intellectually – the same intellectual age to which, I understand, most present day T.V. programming is geared. Can we conclude then that most North Americans are intellectually incapable of rising above childish reasoning, or should we rather hypothesize that as a nation both socially and scholastically we have not yet challenged most people to think for themselves beyond the most primitive levels? Are we, and if so will we remain, what William J. Lederer characterized us as being in the 1960’s, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"A Nation of Sheep"},{"insert":"? If Boyers, Sizer, Adler, Bloom and others are right, if the Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities, the International Educational Achievement Studies, the College Board, The Education Commission of the States, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and the Association of American Medical Colleges are right, then our overemphasis on “rote memorization and recall of facts” does not serve us well. We must exchange our traditional picture of knowledge and learning for one that generates and regards “active, independent, self-directed learning” so that students can “gather and assess data rigorously and critically”. We need to abandon “methods that make students passive recipients of information” and adopt those that transform them into “active participants in their own intellectual growth”. Perhaps some old-fashioned intellectuals like Emerson Shideler had "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"something"},{"insert":" of practical value to say after all:\n \nEducation is training in "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"how"},{"insert":" to think rather than in "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"what"},{"insert":" to think; it is a confrontation, a dialogue between ways of assessing evidence and supporting conclusions. It implies that the teacher’s primary job is that of making clear the bases upon which he weighs the facts, the methods by which he separates facts from fancies, and the ways in which he discovers and selects his ultimate norms . . . . This concept of teaching . . . . requires that the purported facts be accompanied by the reasons why they are considered the facts. Thereby the teacher exposes his methods of reasoning to test and change. If the facts are in dispute . . . then the reasons why others do not consider them to be facts must also be presented, thus bringing alternative ways of thinking and believing into dialogue with each other."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" \nPerhaps we, as most people, are constitutionally incapable of learning a lesson until its point becomes a long-drawn-out and painful imperative. But isn’t nearly 400 years of “mis-education” imperative enough? Aren’t we threatened enough on all sides by prejudice, parochialism, egocentricity, self-righteous ignorance, and an overabundance of miscellaneous gobbledygook and humbug, to consider investing for the first time in our history in the critical faculties of our citizens and in their potential as rational, autonomous thinkers and doers? If I read the signs correctly (including a mass of scathing educational reports), then finally, the time has come. If so, we should think of it, in the spirit if Churchill’s oft-quoted remark: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”\n"}]}

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