Critical Thinking Reviews

Critical Thinking Reviews-51
That many if not all students submit assignments and tests and have difficulty predicting their grade and all because they don’t understand what the rules of the game are.Well as an undergraduate I was never to quite fathom out what those rules were.

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I’d submit something and not quite be able to predict what mark I would get.

Things I thought were great pieces of work got a B or a C and the stuff I rushed or cobbled together could get anything from a D to an A.

At this time I was at Oxford and reading education.

Of all the topics that should have let me into the secret of success this was it. well that was until I happened across a book and a professor that changed all that.

That we weigh evidence based on how it was obtained and how much of the argument or opinion it supports.

Note, here there is a distinction between an unsubstantiated opinion (aka the Manchester Airport Conversation) and an evidenced opinion where the limits of the evidence to support the argument are known.An opinion without supporting evidence and data (see this post for the difference between the two) is just that, an opinion.There is no way to discover whether the opinion has any foundation in reality or is just the ravings of a mad person. Well I had lots of problems but at the risk of invoking tears of sympathy and mockery I will focus on this one pertinent issue. However this is actually a problem of major proportions in any learning system.What he discovered was that when the vast majority of students typically arrive at college they think the rules of the formal learning game (at school, university or indeed any classroom) is to memorise ‘stuff’.This short term memorisation drives not just a lot of ‘learning’ but many teachers/trainers/lecturers also think this is what it is about.Under the ever watchful gaze of my children I decided that eye rolling was probably not my best course of action and replied with probably a little too much enthusiasm “Manchester airport” whilst wondering what to level of enlightenment this conversation was about to lead.The response was what has since become immortalised as ‘The Manchester Airport conversation’ was “I hate Manchester Airport”.Professor Pring intoduced me to a whole world of thinking, thinking about thinking, and thinking about learning, education and human (learning, intellectual, moral and ethical) development in general.During this time of having my mind well and truly spun around and stretched, I stumbled across a fascinating body of work by an epistemologist (the study of knowledge and how we know and understand things) called William Perry.So called transmission or transfer of knowledge (which I would argue is impossible anyway – more of this later). It is often just a passive acceptance of the facts as presented by the teacher for memorisation.Indeed that’s what I thought the game was until I read this book / studied educational philosophy; Go to class, listen and record the facts, re-read the notes just before the exam, regurgitate the facts in the test, or repeat the facts in essays and assignments… There are a number of levels of intellectual development which Perry uncovered, which are stages of intellectual development. For now I want to jump to the rules of the critical thinking game…. This is closer to the idea of indoctrination than education – see the post on Why many people’s idea about how we learn is just plain wrong“well knowledge is dynamic in that the things we believed to be true 100 or even 50 years ago we no longer believe to be true.


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