Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Critical Thinking needs critical facts

From a website begging to teach me critical thinking:
“With No Child Left Behind in the rearview mirror, it's time to broaden your students' horizons. Now teachers can focus on critical thinking, comprehension and meaningful expression. Critical thinking is the most valuable skill we can teach our children. With it, kids can find any fact and solve any problem.”
Actually, no. And yes.

Yes, you can find any fact.
No, you can’t solve any problem.

The acquisition of facts allows the brain/mind to juggle those facts and judge whether or not something is true, to extend the facts beyond what is known and extrapolate to an unknown, to devise a new formula from the old, to push the boundaries of understanding beyond the limits.

Critical thinking, by itself, is not enough. “If I have seen far, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.” Critical thinking is that “Seeing far.” We must build upon our past, expand our knowledge and push our learning forward.

Without resistance and thinking, one cannot have learning. Learning is hard. Understanding new things is hard. If it isn’t, then the new thing probably isn’t new. It may have been unthought-of, but it isn’t new. The spark was needed but the groundwork had been laid.

Before you can be a critical thinker, you must have some facts to critically think about. Before one can decode a word problem and reduce it down to its essence, one must first understand the essence. Only then can we see the frills and verbiage that obscure the true problem.

Surface area of a house … “What’s the formula?” There isn’t one. It’s a collection of known figures for which we do have formulas.

1 comment:

  1. House painting, eh? It is getting toward that time of year ...