Problem Solving, part I

I’ve been struggling for a while trying to put my thoughts into words when it comes to higher level thinking.  You know the kind of higher level, critical thinking that many in the state of Texas feels is dangerous….before I continue, please read this link:

Ok, now that, that’s done…do we really want our children to grow up to be automaton’s?  I certainly hope not.  I spent the vast majority of my post-graduate education developing ways to wake up the kind of critical thinking that stomps out the present “tell me what I need to know for the test” kind of attitude that is literally destroying our educational system.  The current culture encourages finding comfort in easy answers, short-cuts, and avoiding the frustration that often comes with problem-solving.  The result is a weak mind, spirit and a cultural “softness” that will be this great country’s demise.  Developing critical thinking doesn’t cause anarchy, or rebellion or lead us on a path of spiritual destruction, it keeps us at our best, ahead of the curve.  It will only make us more worthy of the grace that was bestowed on us and better able to face a new and changing future.  Critical thinking is the root of invention, innovation and allows us to see things in new ways.  Why would anyone think that was bad?  From a spiritual vantage point, the rigid prohibition of information that challenges us and judgement on those who live outside  some puritanical definition of moral won’t make us better people, it turns us into a people full of such rancor that it justifies the most abominable behavior in the name of a God that I just can’t believe would ever condone.

When I was a high school teacher, part of my master’s  thesis was to take my subject, which was theology, and study it within the context of some of the other subjects, like science, gender, literature and history.  In doing so, the religious principles took on a new and greater meaning.  To see a Christian principle in the context of scientific theory didn’t render it mute, or null and void at all, it highlighted how unbelievably sacred our physical world is.  Both student and teacher found new ways to see things that never would have been possible has we not gone down that particular road of discovery, it was a whole different vantage point.  Anyone can try to utilize an ideology as a weapon if the intent is to destroy something.  But when the intent is to learn and stretch our understanding the results can be nothing but good.  If not, is it because we don’t have the faith that our belief can withstand the challenge?

Thinking critically itself is often misunderstood, so before I continue this essay…I listed a bunch of my favorite quotes about it…

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.

   ~ Aldous Huxley

You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.

  ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and ‘success,’ defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.”

– Chris Hedges, American journalist
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, 2009

“Even in high school, a rule that permits only one point of view to be expressed is less likely to produce correct answers than the open discussion of countervailing views.”- John Paul Stevens, Senior Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court
Morse v. Frederick (2007)

“Those of us who are in this world to educate—to care for—young children have a special calling: a calling that has very little to do with the collection of expensive possessions but has a lot to do with worth inside of heads and hearts.” – FRED M. ROGERS, Host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

“Genius without an education is like silver in the mine.” – BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, American Diplomat, Scientist, and Writer

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” – Henri Bergson, French Philosopher and Educator

“Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time.” – Hebrew Proverb

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

critical thinking


disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence: The questions are intended to develop your critical thinking.

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