Critical thinking: A teacher’s call
Last week I attended the ASU: Origins Project lecture. The topic this time was deception. The panel of lecturers spoke about how your brain deceives you, the biological reasons for self-deception, and how magicians use these things to perform their tricks. All and all, it was both entertaining and educational. At the end, host Lawrence Krauss, asked the panel a few questions before opening the floor to audience questions. One questions brought up how to defend ones self from deception. The panel offered interesting answers, but one panelist in particular, Jamy Ian Swiss, had the best answer. Here’s a summary: skepticism. Swiss is a big name in the skeptic community, was the founder of the Nation Capital Area Skeptics, and has monitored several of the $1M challenges hosted by the JREF.
It was not the fact that Swiss mentioned skepticism that was eye opening. I’ve been a member of Phoenix Skeptics in the Pub for a little over a year now, and have been pursuing skepticism and science for most of my life. I’m no stranger to how skepticism can help shield us from deception and self-deception. The thing that really opened my eyes and made me think was one statement in particular that Swiss made: why aren’t we teaching the methods, fundamentals and philosophies of science in 2nd or 3rd grade instead starting these classes in college?
Holy crap! Why aren’t we teaching the methods, fundamentals and philosophies to kids?! We aren’t teaching grade school and high school kids how to think. We’re only teaching them to memorize and regurgitate facts for things like the AIMS test. Kids today are losing their critical thinking skills, and, as a high school science teacher, I have to admit that I’m as guilty of this as any other teacher. All of the focus of teaching today is on test scores and knowing facts, but not how to think problems through. Why the hell are we teaching this very fundamental skills to children?! How can I, as a teacher, design lessons, units, curriculum, and classes that promote, teach, and explore critical thinking and the philosophies of science?
So here’s my call – I need help from other teachers! So I’m calling out PASS teachers. Help me bring science fundamentals and critical thinkings skills back into the classroom. Leave a comment below if you’re interested in meeting up to plan out some lessons.