[ExI] my view of education

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Sat Dec 15 00:38:51 UTC 2018

On Dec 14, 2018, at 1:37 PM, William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
> dan wrote    ’m a bit pessimistic if critical thinking and a questioning attitude can be taught to kids who aren’t already open to them.
> Simple example:  take a kid shopping for clothes and shoes.  Let's say he's about six.  I speculate that he will want expensive ones, will pick on the basis of what other kids are wearing, his favorite colors, etc.  (My own 14 year old daughter, long ago, simply would not wear Lee jeans.  I told her she could have three pairs for the price of the Gloria Vanderbilt ones she wanted.  I bought the VAnderbilt ones, of course.  When she had her own children I reminded her of that scene, and she admitted that she was wrong.)  So then show he how to put all of his criteria in some kind of order:  what's most important?  Least?  Point out that if he gets those Nikes he can't wear them to school because they would be stolen from him right off his feet.  And if he spends so much money on shoes he will not have much left over for coats, which he has to have, and he won't want to have a cheap coat, and o on.  So, decision-making starts.
> If the parent just buys what she thinks she can afford and the kid will wear, and makes all of his choices for him, he learns nothing.  So parents, I assume, though I have never heard of such, give a kid an allowance when he is ten or twelve and he has to buy everyhthing from it:  clothes, games, tickets, etc.  This is teaching like throwing a kid in the pool and tell him to swim,is teaching.  So when he gets into trouble, having spend all his weekly allowance on food, you sit down and help him make decisions, at least to get him started.  But of course you cannot tell him how to rank his likes, so he is forced to do that decision-making.  
> I have read exactly zero books on how to raise kids, so I just don't know how much time they spend on critical thinking.  I hope it's a lot and parents buy the books etc. 

I meant taught as in taught in school. Parents have a stronger incentive to get it right. And the example you give is of fostering agency. That’s very different from the typical case of critical thinking classes I’ve taken — ones where you go over case studies and try to apply principles and discuss them, and then you’re tested on similar cases often with prompting. 

I’m not saying the latter can’t work, but it seems harder with a captive audience who just want to pass the class or do something else. Which is why I mentioned students already “being open” to them (critical thinking and a questioning attitude*).

One more thing: critical thinking tends to be a great overall skill to have — like reading and arithmetic. But schooling tends to be oriented towards stuff that’s easy to teach and test — like narrow domains of knowledge.


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* As opposed to either students who are unable, unwilling, or who merely want to pass the class and move on. Think of this way: most majors in college require some foreign language study. Yet studied show that the US is strongly monolingual even for college grads. Why is that? They learned enough to meet the degree requirement and promptly forgot the stuff once they got their diploma. 
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