Friday, June 1, 2007

Critical Thinking

Everyone knows them, those people who just can't seem to think for themselves. You have to hold their hand and lead them to the answer, often times having to give it to them. These people are an example of what I consider to be an epidemic in the US, a lack of *critical thinking* skills.

For those of you who do not know, I have worked in hotels for the last nine years. In that time, I have trained a lot of people on the various computer systems (called PMS - Property Management Systems in hotels) that hotels run. Thinking back, I have found that I employed two different kinds of training; the first kind I used was what I call the "What do you think" system, and the second being the "Let me walk you through" system. The "What do you think" system was where I would show someone how to do something, then the next day I would expect them to do it; often times in this system people would not know the answer, so I would ask the questions that should be going through their head (how, what, where, and why) "How do I get to my desired result?", "What will get me to my desired result?", etc. The "Let me walk you through" system was where I would continuously walk someone through the situation and show them the answer. The two systems gave different results, the second one resulted in more phone calls from staff that ran into a situation that I trained them for, but came at them in a different way; the first system resulted in fewer calls, and a more competent set of staff.

I'm sure you are asking how this all relates to the US as a whole. Simply put, people are not *taught* how to think critically, they are not taught to question. This means that many people in the world are just waiting for someone to give them the answers.

The current war, taking any old example. People were led by the hand into wanting the war. We were shown images, we were fed lies - the thing is, most people did not think about the information critically. Would critical thinking have stopped the war, no one can say for sure, but people would not have been so eager.

Religion; from the ripe old age of 14 days many people are introduced to religion. From that age people are taught to respect and fear religion, but never taught to truly think about it. Maybe if people were taught to critically think about religion, then there might be more atheists in the world.

The problem: Critical Thinking is not taught.
My solution: Teach critical thinking in every grade level. Teach the teachers how to alter their teaching methods to integrate it into the existing curriculum.

Critical thinking, the anti-drug.

- Duane