Day 636: Critical Thinking: How to Think

This is a very timely discussion for the times we're in - our education system is only good for pumping out robots designed to complete menial and repetitive tasks. It is becoming more and more evident that we need to redesign the way we educate. The evidence of this is all around, most easily seen within the common inability in people to think independently and rationally. The style of our education system stays with us for our entire lives if we do not take the initiative to change ourselves. Something as simple as not being willing to consider something as valid if it is not in line with our opinions can be said to be at least partially caused by how we are taught to accept what we are told unquestioningly as the truth. When we are told different things by different sources whom we respect equally then we will simply choose the one that suits our beliefs best.

So along with unquestioningly accepting things as truth (this generally happens when we are dealing with an authority figure, or a person who we respect), we tend to not look into the things we believe all that much. When I say 'believe', I am not limiting the meaning of the word to religious or spiritual beliefs but am including opinions and world views. So we are pretty content to remain blissfully ignorant and 'follow the leader' (our leaders are all the people who have influenced us: political figures, scientific figures, family, friends, actors, musicians, etc). We are not this way by accident - we were shaped to be this way.

Luckily, more and more people are breaking free of their chains of ignorance and starting to question the way we live and teach. In the video linked above, Jesse Richardson discusses the nature and benefits of starting to think outside the box, outside our comfort zones. He discusses 2 elements that are woefully lacking in our education system: creative thinking (design and innovation) and critical thinking (thinking logically, objectively and rationally). A very valid point he makes is that it's OK to let go of the ideas that you previously felt you needed to defend to the death - it is actually liberating to let go of all the things you believed must be true and start to question what is actually true and how does the world actually work. A funny thing about critical thinking that Jesse also describes is that it tends to lead to self awareness where you start looking at how you got to the conclusion that you're at and consider whether it is actually valid or an assumption or belief.

He asks another pertinent question towards the end of his Talk: Shouldn't we apply the same vigour, effort and attention to education as we do to marketing? Imagine what a difference it would make if we put as much of our skills and resources into education as we do into the industries that have profit as their main focus and goal. Imagine if we were as excited about creating a rich educational system for our children as we are about making lots of money. Each and every person deserves to be shown how to think critically and investigate things thoroughly without preconceived ideas and notions. Our education system is designed for the opposite: comply or face punishment and exclusion. Imagine if it was changed from being the 'carrot or the stick' to being an informative adventure for a child that they look forward to and do not require outside motivation to do. This is entirely possible - some people are already implementing these principles with great success - not to mention the personal fulfillment and satisfaction that stands to be attained by both students and adults.

As a last note I'd like to include the link to the logical fallacy website that Jesse mentions in the Talk that is a very useful source to have printed out or bookmarked for yourself.