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devilgrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 05:50 PM
Original message
Schools should teach critical thinking, not obedience
A great editorial I thought I'd share. :-)

Schools should teach critical thinking, not obedience
By Ross T. Runfola

Public schools should stop stressing socialization to the neglect of fostering critical thinking, autonomy and creativity in students. Generally, public schools do not encourage enlightened dissent but a deadened passivity where students blindly accept teachers instruction as irrefutable fact.

Howard Zinn recognizes this in A Peoples History of the United States, where he finds: Control in modern times more than force more than law requires the special task of educators to preserve the culture, not to transform it. As a result we have an educational system that is more a purveyor of societal norms than a vehicle where students have the freedom to disagree, and give sound reasons for their position.

Education should begin, not end, when a teacher presents information. But the best students are usually defined by teachers as those who agree with them and are robot-like on exams and oral discussion, giving back to the teacher the same information he/she originally gave the student.

Leaders in society are independent thinkers and have a good sense of self through an early freedom to discover. Teachers do the bidding of the business and governmental elite, without knowing it, by preparing a whole generation of workers to learn reading, writing and arithmetic so they can fit easily into the labor force and, according to Zinn, learn obedience to authority.

more: http://buffalonews.com/220/story/27234.html
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hobbit709 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 05:54 PM
Response to Original message
1. They don't want thinking
They want blind obedience. Thinking causes trouble among the masses, which is why it's so discouraged.
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Sequoia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 06:16 PM
Response to Reply #1
11. ...and homework, homework, homework.
My child aces the Star Testing which brings up the level in her class and for the school. However, because her teacher assigns more homework than I ever, ever had in high school for a week...well, her excitment about school is nil. The school wanted us to sign her up for this program for ADD type kids and we said no. Her teacher in first grade even was all upset because "she dared to question" her. Control freak.
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proud patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 05:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. They want "employees able to punch time cards"
They don't want informed educated masses .
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devilgrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. As soon as I saw the title of the article I thought it was about my parents
In fact, I'm debating with myself whether or not I should sent it to them.
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peace13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 05:57 PM
Response to Original message
3. More thinkers! That is what we need.
When my son was two my friend told me that she was going to teach her son the 'big ten' rules for living and after that, her job would be done because he would know the rules. I told her that I was going to teach my son to think in case he came up on a situation that one of her rules didn't cover. He is 22 now and I am so proud of him. Peace and love, Kim
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ellisonz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 05:57 PM
Response to Original message
4. Beavis and Butthead are my heros.
Good article!
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Vexatious Ape Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
5. I think school would be a lot less boring to a lot of kids
if they were taught to think more critically, and independently.
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SeattleGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 05:59 PM
Response to Original message
6. I couldn't agree more.
Teaching students to be robots, followers, teaching to the test....ARGH! So much harm is being done to the ability to think critically, it's criminal!
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ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 06:04 PM
Response to Original message
8. Tell Me When There Was Ever A Day ....
I went through school half a centry ago. Back in those days when a teacher told me that the Indians greeted their friends the the Pilgrims with open arms who was I to say no? There's not a chance on this earth I could have said something like 'I'd be suprised if the Indians saw it that way' and stood a chance of passing. Nothing has changed.
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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 06:06 PM
Response to Original message
9. Young children have incredibly creative imaginations.
Look what happens by the time most children are in high school. Herd mentality, dulled imaginations. Bright minds corraled into institutionalized boundaries. It's a real shame.

My favorite instructor was my history professor in college. With him, it wasn't about learning the dates of the battles and the generals and the politicians and who was who. He taught us to study events and then debate what would have happened in history if a particular battle had gone the other way, or if another president had been elected, or perhaps a country had remained in power longer. His general theme of teaching was, "What if?"

It was great. He made us think.
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nealmhughes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 06:09 PM
Response to Original message
10. My little brother just started college after 4 years in the Navy. He is now working on his
Edited on Wed Mar-07-07 06:10 PM by nealmhughes
first research paper. We went to the library together and I taught him how to use tertiary, secondary and primary sources and how to differentiate them and then we went thru the databases. He didn't know they existed, thinking they were merely a "fancy Google."
We spent four non-stop hours then took a beer and burger break with a game of pool, then back until the library closed. I had told the reference librarian I was giving him an information literacy lesson as he had not been exposed to anything approaching it in high school.
As we left, I thanked her for not shusshing us, and she said, "I'm a catagloguer, and love for a reference librarian to be at the desk, thank you for making my job easy tonight!" We had a long discussion on critical thinking, teaching from a book and not emphasizing that one book is merely that: one book. Recite from memory, learn to stand in line, eat what is offered, team sports instead of individualized Aconcentration in physical education, etc.
When I told her I had "A" students in high school who entered college not knowing that Israel had been proclaimed in 1948 and was "that part of the world where Eurasia and Africa meet above the Sinai Peninsula" they were astonished, thinking that Israel was in Europe!
As an academic librarian, I deal with the consequences of having to teach what should have been learned by Grade 8 or so: academic papers do not start with the words "I think." "They was" is not acceptable, and copying and pasting from a website get an F.
12 years of 7 hours a day, and all they get is learning to conjugate "haber" in all tenses if lucky and no idea of what i squared is.
The most expensive baby sitting in the world.
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L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 06:37 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. My college algebra students did not all learn fractions in high school. n/t
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AX10 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 06:58 PM
Response to Original message
13. The powers that be do not want that.
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meldroc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 07:17 PM
Response to Original message
14. George Carlin has quite a lot to say about this...
You and I are not in the Big Club


There's a reason that education sucks, and its the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. Its never going to get any better, dont look for it. Be happy with what youve got. Because the owners of this country dont want that. Im talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions.

...

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But Ill tell you what they dont wantthey dont want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They dont want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. Theyre not interested in that. That doesnt help them. Thats against their interest. You know something, they dont want people that are smart enough to sit around their kitchen table and figure out how badly theyre getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

They dont want that, you know what they want?

They want obedient workers, obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.
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Solo_in_MD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 09:01 PM
Response to Original message
15. Never going to happen
The educrats want nice robots that go from class to class and do not challenge what and how they are not. They resent it when parents encourage thinking or even teach outside the school. I say that as a former teacher and as the husband of a long term teacher.
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. And the educrats REALLY resent it when teachers teach

outside the lines, encourage their students to think.
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riverdeep Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 10:08 PM
Response to Original message
17. I think this is what
partially accounts for that rather dismisively named phenomenon teenage angst. Sure, some part of it is based on silly things, self-absorbtion,
etc. But some part of it is a genuine awareness that they are about to become cogs in a machine.

The mass education system was not originally designed to foster critical thinking, but rather to give farmboys and future laborers pragmatic skills. And it shows.

Still, as they say, it could be worse. Ever see Japanese students? They keep their heads down the entire time, literally, staring at the top of their desk, so that they won't get called on by the instructor and embarass themselves if they answer a question wrong. The thought of challenging a teacher never even registers.
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nick303 Donating Member (379 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 11:41 PM
Response to Original message
18. Sure it feels good to get out some righteous indignation
but what this author is proposing is not always appropriate. Open-ended discussions may be appropriate for certain subjects like literature or history. "Hard" subjects like math and science are not really open for debate at the primary/secondary school level.

I also was a bit befuddled at the poster who had a problem with team sports and physical education. Most schools are lighter on these now than they have been in the past. A competitive spirit is an important skill to develop, and I can't see how anyone would argue against a legitimate physical education program.
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-07-07 11:47 PM
Response to Original message
19. I was definitely raised in the era of conformity and peer pressure
Maybe in the colleges they were rebelling at the time, but where I grew up, your peer group judged you. Even the older generation judged you by how many "friends" you had in your peer group.

"Socialization" yeah. How to obey the whim of whoever gets to bully everyone else for whatever arbitrary reason. And it was never the smart kids. Where I grew up the athletes were better than the smart kids, that was recognized by adults.

The system literally punished independent thinking or originality of any kind.
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Thothmes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-08-07 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
20. Critical Thinking
Just how does one teach critical thinking to people that cannot readily read and write the English language. These are the basic tools to critical thinking. Unfortunately, the school systems ability to advance even the basic tools of Civilization (reading, writing, arithmetic)appears to be waining
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-08-07 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
21. Sigh. Freedom/creativity and Constraint/Rule Following are equally necessary.
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Beer Snob-50 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-08-07 09:08 AM
Response to Original message
22. the testing programs espoused by the republicans are the cause
of much of this problem. my kids teachers teach toward the standardized testing and not toward thinking for themselves.
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SmokingJacket Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-08-07 09:13 AM
Response to Original message
23. Try writing a curriculum for it, then try and find teachers who can teach it.
It's not so easy. In a decent school, about one-third of the teachers can do this, and are ALREADY doing it -- or are trying to in the face of opposition from the administration.

It takes immense intelligence, creativity, energy, and an administration who is on your side to be the kind of teacher who can really put the fire into kids. Unfortunately, everything is now stacked against it, from NCLB on down, particularly the whole teacher education system.

It's one thing to complain in an editorial -- something else altogether to put together a truly workable proposition for education reform that will get the people and the bucks behind it.

I'm highly suspicious of these articles, anyway. Some of them disguise a strong, anti-public education agenda. Public schools are flawed, yes indeedy, but the alternative that some are calling for (letting parents alone be responsible for the education of their children) will lead to a society where the bottom half of the socio-economic stratum will be illiterate, another quarter will be barely literate, and the top quarter will control EVERYTHING.

(Not so different from now... but at least public schools, at their ideal, give most kids a chance at something.)
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The2ndWheel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-08-07 09:29 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. That's true. You can't just change one thing
You'd have to change the obsession of written language(or language period, since it lacks diversity as we race through time, stunts imagination and creativity of each individual person). You'd have to change the socio-economic stratum. You'd have to change economics and how it works. You'd have to basically change everything.

Schools are the way they are, and teach exactly the way they teach, and work exactly the way they're supposed to, for the benefit of the reality we live in today.

You can't just change the schools. If you change the schools, you have to change everything about life after school as well, because it would be a completely different reality. I'm guessing since everyone wants a good job, money, security, planning for the last few years of your life when you can really enjoy it, we won't be changing a damn thing.
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