Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Maybe some Red states will reinstate critical thinking skills in the curriculum

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It would be a logical—and, I think, effective—way to respond to the Kremlin’s embrace of widespread disinformation campaigns. Such campaigns work only if people do not have the thinking skills that enable them to analyze, research, seek disconfirming evidence, evaluate findings, and judge what they read. If people in general do have good critical-thinking skills, such campaigns not only don’t work, they become a serious liability because they are widely exposed.

And if you want people in general to have the skills, the most straightforward and cost-efficient course is to include the teaching of those skills as part of the regular curriculum. The schools are going to be teaching, in any case; they can just include these skills among whatever else they are teaching—that is, strands would be introduced in every subject area, teaching one to use the skills in the contexts of (say) science, history, civics, literature, and so on. The skills are useful in all subject areas, but of course the problem comes when the skills are applied to anything like American history (as Howard Zinn discovered). In particular, when critical thinking skills are applied to how we are governed, what businesses are doing (an EpiPen in Canada costs less than $12), what is happening to the environment and why—well, it can get uncomfortable for those in power. And what good is power if you don’t use it?

So I don’t think there’s any likelihood that our schools in generall will seriously teach critical thinking skills (using, for example, curricular materials developed by Edward de Bono) or even particularly encourage them: more trouble than it’s worth.

Still, seeing disinformation used as a weapon might draw attention to the most logical and cost-effective countermeasure.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Don’t get your hopes up.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 August 2016 at 12:12 pm

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