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Sorry everybody, but I’m going to have to do the teacher thing for the moment.  So let’s open with a quote from Noam:

“Don’t take assumptions for granted.  Begin with taking a skeptical attitude towards anything that is conventional wisdom.  Make it justify itself.  It usually can’t.  Be willing to ask questions about what is taken for granted.  Try to think things through for yourself.  There is plenty of information.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.  It’s all about the questions.  I hate it when I catch myself on things.  Before you ask, the quote is accurate; the sentiment behind it is accurate.  This doesn’t have much to do with politics.  This is a post about education.  It’s a post about critical thinking.

You have to develop your critical thinking skills.  Tommy isn’t doing will in English; Tommy is having problems with his critical thinking skills.  Well, you can probably do the same thing with just about any subject.  Johnny isn’t doing well in Science, Mrs. Smith; he’s struggling with his critical thinking skills.  Jack is failing mat, Jack has problems with critical thinking.

Is it important?

What is critical thinking?

Seriously, what is it?

I don’t know any more.

I used to have a problem with many parts of the whole greater education ethos while I was logging my time in the front of a classroom.  Most of my complaints were focused on Multiple Intelligences.  I’ve written a post about it in the past.  Why do we focus so much on group work when students will have to achieve individually in college?   Why do we have classroom games where everyone is a winner when that’s not the case in real life?  That sort of thing.  I never really thought too deeply about critical thinking.

What is critical thinking?  In social science classrooms it is there to help students develop skills by reading questions and flipping through the classroom material to find the appropriate answers.  It’s important.  I’ll give you that.  It’s learning how to write research papers for the professors that give you a series of questions to chose from in order to make the grade in college classes that help you to develop no real job gaining skills.  Believe me, I know this for a fact, I am very good at research.  I have highly developed skills that no one will ever higher me to use.  So it goes.  Push comes to shove & I’ll openly admit that I should have majored in construction.  So it goes.  Shit.

I thought I could get by as a teacher.  But then they aren’t hiring teachers, are they?  They certainly are not hiring history & government teachers.  And they will absolutely not hire teachers that have blown the whistle in the past.  So it goes.  Shit.

But I am digressing again.  That’s funny.  I used to joke that philosophers are the most relevant when they are the shortest.   In their shortest publications they are the most important, they are sure they are correct & therefore are not going to work too hard to make their point; it was my critical thinking in philosophy.  It’s one of the reasons I thought Leviathan was a bull shit philosophical text, a very well written one, one that was a pleasure to read, but still; bull shit.  And Hobbes knew it too.  I’ve done that before, I’ve written things that I knew were totally vapid while I was writing them, & at that time of the writing the logic behind it holds.  It’s not my fault if you buy into it.

But that is the point isn’t it?

Still with me or are you bored?

Let us look for a minute at the ancient Greek philosophers for our little rant about critical thinking.  OK?  It’ll be fun.   I was once madly in love with a girl that was madly in love with the ancient Greeks.  It makes you an expert on the subject.  It really does.  If you want to impress her, you read “the ancients,” as Jenny called them.  And it helps, at least if you can keep your mouth shut & try not to call out the fact that Plato was a racist, if not that, at least the fact that The Republic endorsed racism.    Some times you just can’t do it.  So it goes.  Shit.  But it was a fun argument to get into.  How many relationships include screaming matches over Plato?

Here’s the twenty-million dollar question:  What were the ancients taught first?

I’ll give you some time to answer: tick tok tick tok tick tok.

Are you ready?

The answer is: rhetoric.

Let me ask you a follow up?  Are you ready guys?

Here it comes:  Why on the face of this momentarily green earth would the ancient Greeks, the people that were renowned for logic, teach rhetoric first?

Anyone?  Anyone?  Anyone?

V-O-O economics.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Voodoo economics.

I’m really not joking there; I’m not just doing the 80’s references that my students never really understood.  It is the right answer….sort of.

Rhetoric!  Critical thinking!  Where am I going with this?

Anyone?  Anyone?

I’ll give you an example.  A real life example.  As in this actually happened.  To me! I supported the Libertarian view on Fiat currency.  It was brilliantly disguised.    It was put in front of me in just the way that would make someone like me more likely to buy into it.  The illusion of the question.  Critical thinking.  Rhetoric cleverly disguised as logic.  Rhetoric is really only propaganda, in more honest times it was simply propaganda.  Today we call it “news” but it is all really just one in the same.  It is a very important lesson to learn.  Even people like me that love propaganda, people like me that collect propaganda are not immune to it.  And I do seriously love it; I have propaganda all over my place, framed as works of art.  I drool with bliss when I watch Fox & MSNBC.

I thought I was questioning fiat currency when I was rallying to the gold or silver standards.  I really did.  I had bought it, hook, line, & sinker.  Let’s be honest here, I WAS questioning fiat currency.  What I wasn’t doing was questioning the gold & silver standards.  The disconnect came only because I was a history teacher, it came only because I had taught economics.  It started with old Billy’s failed presidential campaigns.  There was a problem when he was running & we didn’t have fiat currency, there simply was not enough money to go around, we were suffering from deflation, & then boom.  A serious boom, an Alaskan boom, gold was found & the problem was solved.

Yippie!

But hold on, there is more.

I taught economics too, I know all about the stock market.  I know all about Wall Street.  I can even do the hand signals; the numbers, the flying bird, the falling quail, the check please, & the more coffee—ok, that’s funnier in the classroom than it is on the page.    I love Glenn Beck, I don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth, but I do love him, him & his fiery pants.  I know enough to have eventually stopped & thought: “wait a minute, Wall Street speculates on silver & gold, & any of the other precious metals we would use if we stopped fiat currency.”  As a matter of fact, they speculate on currency as well.  What it does, what ending the fiat currency does, is allow for more currency control to be placed in the hands of the people that caused most of our problems.  So it goes.  Shit.  Now we have to find another solution to inflation, because a standard backed by a metal is not going to work any longer, not once you think about it critically.

Why is this important to critical thinking as taught in the classroom?  It’s important because it is not critical thinking, its rhetoric.  And rhetoric is useful, but logic is necessary.  Logic should trump rhetoric.  What my belief about fiat currency used to be operated exactly like what students are taught when they are taught critical thinking in the classroom.  I was given material, I was given questions, & I was told to find the answer in the text.

It doesn’t develop critical thinking skills at all.  At least, it doesn’t develop the critical thinking skills that we as a nation need.  It doesn’t develop the skills that we as teachers need in order to successfully prepare our students to think critically outside the classroom.

We are focusing too much on the answers.

We are focusing too much on the answers.

We are focusing too much on the answers.

As a very wise fictitious character once said in the Matrix:  “It is the question that drives us.”  Otherwise we are just thinking in fragments.  You see what I just did there?  Yeah.  Three person joke, that was.  That wasn’t funny at all.  Maybe a lit major would laugh at it.

Ultimately, all the critical thinking sections in the text books are doing is no different than what the multiple choice questions are doing.  It’s teaching the students how to flip pages, find the proper acceptable answers, the answers that support the preordained rhetoric.  We already have the essay questions to develop the students’ rhetorical skills; we don’t need the critical thinking sections to support the material’s rhetoric.

We should kill the critical thinking section, or at least rename it.  No, my first impulse was correct.  We should murder it until it is dead.   Kill it bloody, it deserves a slow & horrible death.  The Persians, in the time before water-boarding,  would shove people in canoes in the desert & force feed them milk & honey until they were fat & bloated & then leave them to the ants & the desert heat.  The critical thinking sections, as taught today, deserve no better fate.

If we want to actually teach critical thinking skills we should develop a blank page lesson plan.  Forget about the answers.  Grade the students on the questions.  Return to Socrates.  Give them the text, give them the material, give them the lectures, & then set them free. Tell them they are graded on their questions.

It’s just as easy to grade off the questions as it is the answers.

The better the questions the students ask, the harder it is for you, the teacher, to find the answers, the better the student understood the material presented in the lesson plan.  We need to teach them to think critically.  We need to teach them how to completely & totally, to utterly destroy the material in the classroom.

We need to destroy rhetoric in the world.  And you know you have succeeded when you are watching the presidential debates & the well placed question lays waste to the propaganda that is spewing out of the platform base.  Teach the students to counter rhetoric with questions in a debate, not facts.

You are the teacher, it’s your responsibility to present the facts to the students, but there is more to it than just that.  They are the students; as such they should have a sacred responsibility in the classroom.  By the time they get back from winter break they should be constantly forcing you to prove the facts.  You should be teaching the students how to really think critically, you should be teaching them to ask questions as a means of attacking the material you are teaching them.  When they argue with you in the classroom, they shouldn’t be using rhetoric, which plays off of emotions, & prejudices, & beliefs.  No.  They should be using questions.

Questions should prove their point.

If they don’t believe in Climate Change, or Gay Marriage, or the War on Terror, that’s fine.  But don’t let them use a party platform to back it up.  Make them use questions; make them ask the questions that you cannot answer to prove their point.

Asking the question is critical thinking.

Finding the answer is just reinforcing the rhetoric in the material.

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9 thoughts on “Critical Thinking in Education

  1. “….But I am digressing again. That’s funny. I used to joke that philosophers are the most relevant when they are the shortest. …”

    I could write a long comment about the destructive (and deliberately so) influence of Prussian Schooling on western education, but inspired by this idea of brevity, I will pose a voluntary critical thinking test instead for anyone who’s interested …. if you don’t object 🙂

    The test:

    Study this woman’s research (which is related to arguably he most important event in recent history) and see if you can refute a single one of the critical arguments or evidence she presents.

    LINK to video presentation.

    And then (assuming you aren’t able to refute her logic or evidence) I invite you to consider what damage must has been done to the critical thinking abilities of the world’s population, that it rendered us all so incapable of comprehending what was happening right in front of our faces.

    • If something that big really brought down the WTC then how are people able to keep it so secret that only the conspiracy theorists have heard about it?

      In the world of Wikileaks & a Country the couldn’t keep PBSUCCESS, MKULTRA, The Pentagon Papers, & Watergate secret, how could this be kept silent for so long?

      For something like that to happen a lot of people would have to be involved from planning to execution, with that many people involved the chances of it being outed to major news sources & especially Wikileaks, is phenomenal. The fact that it wasn’t suggests that it never really happened.

      And given that it is technology that is taught in some of the better High School physics classes across America, then why isn’t that happening more often?

      I mean, we were playing with that in Mr. Norton’s class in the 12th grade. You figure if they can teach it to high school physics students than it would be a frequently occurring event, lots of governments hostile to the US have better education systems than we do & that tech isn’t exactly rocket science.

      I could go on, but I think that’s enough to cause at least some reasonable doubt.

      • I wouldn’t say those questions aren’t valid (they are certainly natural questions to ask) but I would say they are not valid refutations of Dr Wood’s evidence or applied critical thinking.

        The evidence she presents can’t be refuted, nor has it been refuted by anyone to date, and it is *conclusive* evidence. For example, the seismic data indicates that two 500,000 tons towers did not crash to the ground (for ANY reason….. bombs, jet fuel, fell over or whatever) and no amount of incredulity or bafflement can make that data say something else 😉

        This is what makes her research such a good test of critical thinking.

        The one thing her research is NOT is ‘conspiracy theory’ (or any other kind of theory). She does not speculate on WHO or WHY choosing to stay focused on WHAT, therefore her work cannot be classified as ‘conspiracy theorising’ (or any kind of theorising).

        The one thing we do know is that technology is advancing rapidly and that every weapon in human history has started out as secret (and often inconceivable) weaponry – at least from the POV of its first victims. And so the argument that we’d know about this high tech technology/ weapon if it existed is not supported by history or logic.

        The overwhelming body of evidence (not theory) which shows that the towers were turned to dust in mid air is beyond doubt. Just as a bullet hole in your leg with a bullet lodged in your bone is also beyond doubt. Both can be determined beyond all doubt by looking at the evidence and taking measurements.

        It just so happens that right now we are not fully familiar with the technology capable of ‘dustifying’ buildings. Once upon a time native Americans were not be fully familiar with the technology capable of firing a piece of metal into their legs from a great distance.

        We can choose to disregard the evidence showing the towers turned to dust in mid air because it feels absurd to us…… just as the native American can also choose to disregard the round hole and the bullet in his leg because it also feels absurd to him. But in both cases that doesn’t change the evidence.

        I would suggest that in these kinds of situations, the ONLY thing we have to make sense of what is going on around us (the only thing we can rely on) is critical thinking.

        And only when we have regained it and started using it again for a while can we even become aware that it really has been largely removed from modern society.

        No society ever calls their OWN age ‘the dark ages’ … LOL.

  2. I know, this is a slippery slope, I can’t refute that the sun will turn into a bran muffin next Tuesday. So in these cases you have to use Occam’s razor.

    So there are two choices here & using Occam’s razor, which makes more sense?

    1) Two hijacked commercial airplanes flew into the WTC on live TV, which I & many others saw live. Like the one the flew into the Pentagon? Like he one that crashed due to a re-hijacking?

    Or

    2) A vast conspiratorial organization put hundreds of people in place & built a massive amount of technology under every New Yorker’s nose in order to bring down the WTC & absolutely NO ONE noticed them while they were building & using said Tesla Tech until your Dr. Wood put the whole thing together using evidence that can’t be fact checked at all because no physical evidence of said Tesla Machine has been found & not a single soul who was involved in said massive plot has ever been caught.

    Option 1 seems like the simpler answer.

    Option 2 requires you to ignore a lot of documented history, the path of the airplane hijackers that the FBI followed after the attack, the fact that Osama admitted to the attacks & said why, the document detailing the potential attack that Bush ignored when he took office.

    So no, because there is no physical evidence proving her right or wrong I can not refute it….but I also cannot refute the theory that the sun will turn into a bran muffin on Tuesday next. I’m just going to use common sense & take it for granted it probably won’t happen.

    Things like this, the fact that people believe them, makes me feel that I failed as a teacher.

    • You’re imposing your own theories, assumptions and beliefs onto 9/11, instead of applying critical thinking to the evidence.

      Hijacked planes cannot turn buildings to powder in mid air or cause any of the other evidence. (1400 toasted cars, missing marble facade of WFC, bizarre deformation of steel beams, the cold ‘fuming’ (ie not smoke or steam) of the debris field for MONTHS, the disappearance of every toilet, doorknob, door, computer, chair, desk, phone etc in the towers yet the abundance of intact and unburned paper, the bizarre disappearance of WTC 3 and most of WTC 4, the impossibly small seismic signals for the towers – with WTC 7 barely discernible from background noise, the continued breakdown of material over months to the size of DNA, the lack of solid debris at ground zero – far too little to account for the mass of the buildings…etc etc)

      Real hijacked airplanes can’t cause any of this and neither can fake hijacked airplanes. Even if the airplanes are hijacked by ‘baddies’ who are pure evil, they still can’t be used to produce these kinds of effects……… unless of course you have proof that they can?

      Buildings simply do not care about acts of terrorism, or conspiracy theories about terrorists in caves or false flag attacks ….. buildings answer only to the laws of physics.

      ‘Something’ (some process, force, mechanism) turned the majority of the WTC complex to dust on 9/11.

      And it wasn’t airplanes.

      “…Option 1 seems like the simpler answer…”

      It is not an answer. It cannot be, because it fails to explain the evidence. The official conspiracy theory only solves an imagined event, not the real event (as per the evidence).

      And your option 2 is a false choice. It is just another conspiracy theory. “Bush and his friends did it” is no different to “Osama Bin Laden and his friends did it”. Neither address (let alone account for) the actual evidence.

      People who believe “OBL did 9/11” and people who believe “Bush did 9/11” are actually on the same side. They have both decided to start off by accusing various parties of a crime before even they’ve even defined WHAT that crime was (as per the evidence).

      9/11 is a date, not a crime. What was the crime? Most people have absolutely no idea! The only way to answer that question is to look at the evidence and the only person who has examined the evidence and defined the crime is Dr Wood.

      She’s also the only person to submit this evidence in a legal challenge. She sued two of NIST’s contractors (hired by NIST to help conduct their ‘investigation’) for science fraud. You may or ma not be interested to learn that these contractors are both involved in directed energy technology. One even co founded ‘the directed energy professionals society’. Perhaps this is just a coincidence.

      What we do know for sure is that ‘somebody’ has the technology to do what was done on 9/11. We know this because what was done of 9/11 was done!

      The evidence shows that some kind of weaponised free energy tech was used… tech presumably capable of sustaining the world or destroying it.

      We always get the world we deserve.

      If we continue to act like dumbed down (but confident) idiots who lack the ability (or the will) to critically analyse to the world around us then this technology will be used on us again – just as sure as guns were used ‘more than once’ against the native Americans!

      But if we start using our critical thinking skills again and start applying critical thinking to the world around us in a more mature, independent and free thinking way (instead of always following the herd or following ‘leaders’) then we will be able to grasp what is actually going on in front of our faces………. and no force on earth will be able to prevent this technology from being liberated and used to bump civilisation up to the next level. No more dependency on fossil fuels and those who have gained a monopoly on their extraction. No more fuel or transport bills. The ability (the energy) to desalinate water and irrigate deserts….. and all pollution free.

      About time wouldn’t you say? 🙂

      It ALL comes down to critical thinking in the end. Act like sheeple, get treated like sheeple. It really is that simple.

  3. I’m going to go ahead & call it a conspiracy theory, because in order to pull of her theory you would need more than one & in this case MANY people working together & keeping it a secret form everyone, & that according to Hoyle, IS a conspiracy.

    Well, that & the fact that she offered no material evidence & things that are based entirely on conjuncture with no evidence are Crazy Conspiracy Theories

  4. So, essentially, you are telling me that whomever was able to pull off 9-11, by building an enormous Tesla machine & not a single soul in New York City noticed it?

    And anyone that doesn’t believe that every single New Yorker is so feeble minded as to not notice it is a complete idiot?

    It that what you are saying? Seriously?

    What you are saying here is that it is “critical thinking” to question the information on 9-11 that was provided by the government & media. And that is fine, perfectly reasonable.

    But you are also saying, flat out, is that blindly believing Dr. Woods conspiracy theory, with out giving it the same amount of logical questions that you apply to accepted information on 9-11 is also Critical thinking.

    That is just trading one blind assumption for another.

    • Why must this device be enormous? You’re speculating again. Do you know what technology, or what precise weapon was used? If not then you can’t possibly know how big it should be.

      The evidence of WHAT happened on 9/11 is beyond doubt. It’s just evidence. The effects produced at the WTC must have been caused by something. We already know that planes can’t produce those effects, even if they are hijacked planes. If there was no evidence of a ‘huge device’ being wheeled in to NY then it’s safe to assume that whatever caused the effects was not huge – or at lease not noticeable.

      One day Fort Knox is found to be completely empty (evidence). But it turns out that no giant trucks or teams of men carrying suspiciously heavy bags labelled ‘swag’ were observed during the preceding few days. But this does NOT change the evidence (an empty building and missing gold).

      We KNOW that planes could not have caused the effects observed in and around the WTC site. But they certainly caught everyone’s attention, didn’t they?

      One avenue we can go down is to look for events which occurred which did NOT catch everyone’s attention. (And yes this avenue IS speculation, but it is also critical thinking as well). Maybe this rather large and underreported ‘natural Tesla coil’ was a component of the technology used on 9/11…. LINK…. who knows?

      It reminded me of that story from the war about the illegal manufacture and export of bicycles which was conducted right under the noses of the German occupiers. All the Germans saw at their checkpoints was people passing by…. on bikes 😉

      “..What you are saying here is that it is “critical thinking” to question the information on 9-11 that was provided by the government & media. And that is fine, perfectly reasonable….”

      Not exactly. I don’t recall the government or media ever providing us with even 5% of vast amount evidence gathered by Dr Wood. The same can be said for the so called ‘9/11 truth movement’ which actively censors and bans members for discussing much of this evidence.

      If we are supplied with (and encouraged to fixate on) only a few selected fragments of evidence we won’t be able to determine WHAT happened on 9/11…. and any resulting theories we come up with will be invalid as a result.

      Even the most seemingly innocuous phrase has the ability to either sway the population towards or away from the evidence. Had the media referred to the towers, more accurately, as having ‘turned to dust’, rather than ‘collapsed’ this would have sharpened everyone’s attention with respect to what they were actually seeing……. towers unravelling to powder right in front of our eyes.

      “…But you are also saying, flat out, is that blindly believing Dr. Woods conspiracy theory…”

      Evidence is not a conspiracy theory, it is evidence. Dr Wood presents evidence. Any speculation or ‘proof of concept’ is kept as a completely separate issue from the evidence.

      To illustrate the difference…

      1. Hurricane Erin was present just off the coast of NY on the morning of 9/11 and it was underreported in all the media. Erin (like all hurricanes) created a field effects around NY which were measured by all three NY airports (this is all evidence).

      2. Field effects (produced by a Tesla coil) are a known component of Tesla/ Hutchison’s work which has replicated ALL of the effects observed on 9/11 on a smaller scale (this is also evidence as well as proof of concept).

      3. Perhaps Erin was used in this way as part of some exotic weapons system (this is speculation).

      But with or without this speculation, the evidence of WHAT effects were produced at the WTC site remains unchanged. The evidence of WHAT happened is beyond speculation. Any speculation (HOW?) is only a side issue, which does not change the evidence (WHAT).

      Evidence is not a matter of ‘blind belief’ either.

      For example, if you don’t ‘believe’ the seismic data is accurate, you can go and independently verify the data with the five recording stations Dr Wood cites. Perhaps they are all fabricating their data as part of some giant conspiracy to make it appear that the towers didn’t make a big impact with the ground. If that is really what you suspect, you could start investigating who works there and why they might be motivated to conspire in that way…..

      …. otherwise, I think it’s safe to accept that the data is correct and THEREFORE the data shows us that majority of the towers did not slam to the ground as solid material, but instead turned to dust in mid air (something which is consistent with all the other evidence).

      “..That is just trading one blind assumption for another…”

      Drawing conclusions from bone fide, verifiable, non fabricated evidence is NOT the same as making assumptions.

      • Evidence? They have the Tesla coil that you speak of, they have found it & conclusively determined that………Nevermind……I don’t feel like getting stuck in an Alex Jones whirl wind.

        I’ll just let you do your thing man, but my statement remains the same.

        Socrates didn’t say “Only question one story & not the other.” He said “question everything.”

        FYI Invega Sustenna is on sale this week 😉

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