Critical thinking?

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Born_again
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Critical thinking?

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HCOS wrote:Parent to Parent - Growing in HCOS: Cogito ergo sum- I think, therefore I am.

by Cheryl Carnegie

I was asked to write an article pertaining to how I am able to implement critical thinking with a Christian perspective into my homeschool, but before I explain how we do it, I feel I must firstly explain what critical thinking is, and what it is not.

As a Christian home educator, I find myself constantly thinking about what it is I’m teaching my children. I am, after all, their biggest influence. Not only am I responsible for teaching them the three R’s and other academics, I am also responsible for modeling good manners, for helping them develop good work ethics, for demonstrating love, acceptance and forgiveness, and for giving them the skills they need to think for themselves. My focus for this article; obviously, is the latter. What is this critical thinking and how are we able, in this process called homeschooling, to find success in the arena of teaching our kids to think for themselves?

Webster defines critical thinking as: the mental process of actively and skilfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion .I am speaking of course, of a higher degree of thinking. I am not speaking of merely forming an opinion, but rather to be able to logically support an argument – based on a solidly formed premise. Sound intimidating? Not really, if you have been taught the basics of critical thinking. And what better a place to start the process of critical thinking than with our own faith? How many of us are able to comfortably support an argument about Intelligent Design? How many of us can skilfully use rhetoric to support a creationist world view? Could you hold your own against an individual who holds an opposing evolutionist world view? How about a university professor? Is this a skill you hope your children will one day posses? Is this a skill you value?

Teaching our children to think is probably one of the most important life skills to obtain, and sadly it is often overlooked. It is also not obtained; however, without a serious degree of effort on our part. If you have been learning along side your children in your own homeschool journey, then you will feel quite comfortable with this process. Unfortunately, you can’t teach this skill by handing your child a workbook – though some mind bender exercises (found in a workbook) can definitely help a young brain to stretch its muscle so to speak.

I have found the most effective way to teach critical thinking is through discussion . You can pick almost any topic: from mathematical word problems, scientific processes, literary analysis, and creative problem solving – to name a few. Lately, I have been focused on a combination of biblical and scientific fact. More specifically, using the bible alongside a wonderful children’s reference book on intelligent design titled It Couldn’t Just Happen . Many lively discussions can be brought forth as a result of exploring this book together with your children. Your objective should be to simply ask open ended questions. Try not to lead your child in their answers – remember your job is to give them the tools they need to start to think for themselves. Think more of gentle guidance, and less of leading the witness. Help turn over the soil in their young minds, pretty soon they’ll be asking you for the shovel.

I have also felt the Lord gently guiding me towards what I have coined God’s own World Wide Web – the www here standing for world history, world religion and world view. They are all so closely interrelated, intertwined, and interwoven. Are you seeing the relationship here? I myself am just starting to get the gist of it, but it starts with a foundation of basic critical thinking skills.

May God bless you richly in your homeschool journey.

http://www.homeschooljourney.wordpress.com

© 2004-2009 Heritage Christian Online School

Reproduced under 'Copyrighted Material Fair Use'
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All emphasis is consistent with original publication.


Whilst I was reading Pastor Dave's Creation Science article, "The Priesthood of Naturalism", I started to meander around the Heritage Christian Online School website looking for further articles of interest. The one by Cheryl Carnegie above really caught my attention though, as it is actually a "parent-to-parent" guide on how to obstruct critical thinking. It's funny(tragically) how I see this as abuse, yet others may see it as a useful, necessary and acceptable measure to stifle an enquiring mind.

For crying out loud! This is so sad, so sad ...... :smt085
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steven lloyd
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Re: Critical thinking?

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Hmmm. Some interesting stuff there BA. From my own experience in being trained in, and later, teaching critical thinking skills (as a consultant to community service workers), I noticed a couple of components missing in her article which I always felt were critically important. Nothing earth-shattering, but when you think about it, actually really pretty obvious. One component maybe too obvious and that’s why she failed to identify it.

One component of critical thinking, that I would consider obvious but would not take for granted, is putting yourself in the place of the opposing viewpoint and really trying to embrace and understand that. One exercise we used to use in groups would be to first ask participants where they stood on the subject of abortion and why. Once we had identified them we would consign them to two groups and then tell them (and gave them time) to prepare themselves to defend the opposing point of view in a debate. Very enlightening for most.

The most difficult part of critical thinking for many (if not most) people is to entertain the idea they might be wrong. The more emotionally invested a person is about an idea the harder this obstacle.

I followed your link to Wikipedia, and while I agree with the ideas presented to define critical thinking my personal opinion (based on my training and experience) is that definition falls short (I think you’d agree Wikipedia is hardly the end-all, be-all).

I’m not sure what your opinion is on the writer you’ve quoted, but I think she’s blowing wind in an effort at self-justification. She doesn’t have a clue what critical thinking is, IMHO.

(perhaps that's why you're crying?)
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Re: Critical thinking?

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I cry for the innocents, steven lloyd; the ones that are indelibly stained by the childish games of some adults.
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Re: Critical thinking?

Post by hellomynameis »

steven lloyd wrote:
One component of critical thinking, that I would consider obvious but would not take for granted, is putting yourself in the place of the opposing viewpoint and really trying to embrace and understand that. One exercise we used to use in groups would be to first ask participants where they stood on the subject of abortion and why. Once we had identified them we would consign them to two groups and then tell them (and gave them time) to prepare themselves to defend the opposing point of view in a debate. Very enlightening for most.


Very enlightening indeed!
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Re: Critical thinking?

Post by Nebula »

How many of us can skilfully use rhetoric to support a creationist world view?

Huh? I thought critical thinkers tried to stick to facts rather than rhetoric.
You cannot reason someone out of a position that they did not use reason to arrive at.
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Re: Critical thinking?

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John Stuart Mills also recommended placing yourself in the opposing camp and exploring their argument from a different point of view in order to be able strengthen your own argument.
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Re: Critical thinking?

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Cheryl Carnegie wrote:Lately, I have been focused on a combination of biblical and scientific fact. More specifically, using the bible alongside a wonderful children’s reference book on intelligent design titled It Couldn’t Just Happen . Many lively discussions can be brought forth as a result of exploring this book together with your children. Your objective should be to simply ask open ended questions. Try not to lead your child in their answers – remember your job is to give them the tools they need to start to think for themselves. Think more of gentle guidance, .....

I can understand scientific fact, but biblical fact?? Is she actually inferring that 'It Couldn’t Just Happen' is the source of the scientific "fact"? Then she suggests putting the two most debunked books ever printed together for a "gentle guidance" session that is supposed to represent critical thinking! No wonder these poor children are screwed-up from day dot!!! Seriously, there should be prison time for these people. :purefury:
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Re: Critical thinking?

Post by I Think »

I dunno Born_ if you couple Biblical fact with the scientific fact of Intelligent Design, you have everything you need to bring these children up right.
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Re: Critical thinking?

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Richard P. Feynman wrote:It is in the admission of ignorance and the admission of uncertainty that there is a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn't get confined, permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history of man.
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Re: Critical thinking?

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I could go on and on with this topic, but instead I will save us all much time and just say that IMO it is abuse and that I feel for the children.
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Re: Critical thinking?

Post by I Think »

I shudder when I hear people say they home school because of the lack of religion in our public schools.
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Re: Critical thinking?

Post by katzenjammer »

If you have faith are you employing "critical thinking"?

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Re: Critical thinking?

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Where is zzontar when we need him?

Steven lloyd, you mentioned that [Sheryl Carnegie's] linking to the Wikipedia definition of "Critical Thinking", opens a definition that "falls short"(based on your training and experience). Would you be able to point us to a 'more' authoritative definition that is equally succinct? I have no formal training in critical thinking, so it would be a pointless exercise for me ..........but you already knew that, didn't you? :dyinglaughing: j/k

Seriously, how about it?
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steven lloyd
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Re: Critical thinking?

Post by steven lloyd »

Born_again wrote: steven lloyd, you mentioned that [Sheryl Carnegie's] linking to the Wikipedia definition of "Critical Thinking", opens a definition that "falls short"(based on your training and experience). Would you be able to point us to a 'more' authoritative definition that is equally succinct?


Sorry, not off hand (as far as a 'more' authoritative definition goes) and I’m getting ready to take off on a two week road trip (of the vacation variety, getting the hell out of Dodge so to speak, have golf clubs will travel, etc.) so I don’t have the time to really get into this right now.

I will say I found the Wikipedia definition to be pretty good (as opposed to Sheryl Carnegie's twisted effort at rationalization and justification), but as I already pointed out it would be my opinion that two critical pieces were missing from the definition provided:

1. The exercise of deliberately and consciously putting yourself in a position to study and appreciate an opposing point from that point of view, and
2. Having the courage to recognize, acknowledge and admit that you might be wrong about some things.

I will note that the second piece can be very difficult for some people, but it does get easier after you’ve done it a couple of times. One comes to discover it is not actually injurious to be or admit to being wrong, and that a little humility can actually be an engaging quality (something I admit I probably need to work on more).
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Re: Critical thinking?

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Hey, have a good road-trip! By the sounds of things you are needing a break.

I found some good references from Oxford University that were basically alerting potential students as to what the minimum level of critical thinking(understanding of) is required. The .pdf gave many worked examples and exercises, and covered individual, combined and complex methods of extracting, interpreting, isolating, solving and practising, etc, critical thought.
A funny thought that I had was that if we were all to apply critical thinking, the forums would shrink by at least 800% :dyinglaughing:
As a bonus, 'wiggle-room' would be virtually eliminated. :9923:
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