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Ideas for a project to develop critical thinking





Zelen
Good afternoon. I will start a project to develop critical thinking in people (mostly teenagers, who have the most potential, but also children and adults). I have some ideas, but I'd like you to do some kind of brainstorm to widen the concept that I already have. Basically, what I want to do is appeal to the interest of people by merely mentioning their problems and their possible solutions (mainly politically-centered). While I do that, I'd make them question their very basic principles so as to make them build their world again, adding this time the so called critical thinking. All ideas and refutation of the present ones are welcome in this debate.
Josso
Well it's an admirable cause. Unfortunately you would have to find a way of counteracting subconcious values that have been absorbed through the media, family, government/business developed subcultures, consumerism, etc - to increase the objectivity of John Doe.

That is - if I have interpreted your hypothesis correctly.
Zelen
Josso wrote:
Well it's an admirable cause. Unfortunately you would have to find a way of counteracting subconcious values that have been absorbed through the media, family, government/business developed subcultures, consumerism, etc - to increase the objectivity of John Doe.

That is - if I have interpreted your hypothesis correctly.


Yes, you have. I think that the problem that you mention could be solved by asking questions (the philosophical method) and by using stories, examples or simple clarifications (the Jesus method: parables, reflections and preaching). Another thing that comes to mind when I try to deal with teenagers is the 'common purpose' that has formed so many communities. Many people are against the ideals of their parents and rest of the family, but they are too afraid of rejection and don't speak their minds. What we can do is (a) support anonymity and (b) give them the 'common purpose' I was talking about, which is the growth and development of the community itself and the change that we're looking for. To achieve this all, they'll have to open their minds.
Summarizing: People will find that opening their minds and leaving the marionette play is the only way they will find the change they are looking for. This will be their purpose and means to achieve it.

What do you think?
Josso
Quote:
Many people are against the ideals of their parents and rest of the family, but they are too afraid of rejection and don't speak their minds.


I think this is a good point. Potentially one step could be to encourage discussions/debates within families. Problems such as this one need to be dealt with at the root of society - inside the family itself. As a person gets past a certain age (depending on the person) it becomes extremely difficult to change or even question integrated beliefs. I think you are definitely along the right lines with the common purpose thing. If a child feels that he has no common ground with the family unit then repressed opinions form which are not particually constructive. It's important to mention here that I have always believed the extent of someones vocabulary limits how much they can express themself. Without that expression people express themselves more with actions rather than talk. I think a lot of parents depend to much on the state to care for their children in this respect - a lot of education systems across the world are not sufficient to provide a child with the vocabulary he needs to express him/herself. This is sadly only ONE of the contributing factors.

Maybe getting a bit ambiguous to your project here but I do truely believe these things are more of a threat to society than most people realise.
Bikerman
You need to start with a syllabus.
I would suggest that it include as a minimum:
formal and informal fallacies
basic logic
basic maths and the use of statistics
Zelen
Bikerman wrote:
You need to start with a syllabus.
I would suggest that it include as a minimum:
formal and informal fallacies
basic logic
basic maths and the use of statistics


I don't know much about maths or statistics. And about the formal and informal fallacies, I think that you'll have to explain a little more, since I don't quite understand what you mean.

Josso wrote:
If a child feels that he has no common ground with the family unit then repressed opinions form which are not particually constructive.

I don't know what you wanted to say, but it made me think of an important point. People tend to consider their opinions useless or not worthy, but we have to make them realize that every opinion counts at the end. A revolution with only one head ends in a tyranny, while a revolution where everybody thinks ends with a change and an improvement. We know of the French revolution, the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. They were powered by people and they represented points in the evolution of humanity, while the Russian revolution, with only one head at a time was only a rotten totalitarianism. We need all to think and want to act and give feedback or else we'll just be making the same mistake all over again.

Josso wrote:
It's important to mention here that I have always believed the extent of someones vocabulary limits how much they can express themself. Without that expression people express themselves more with actions rather than talk. I think a lot of parents depend to much on the state to care for their children in this respect - a lot of education systems across the world are not sufficient to provide a child with the vocabulary he needs to express him/herself. This is sadly only ONE of the contributing factors.

Maybe getting a bit ambiguous to your project here but I do truely believe these things are more of a threat to society than most people realise.


I agree with you. Teenagers don't usually have a great vocabulary, and that prevents them from being a real power for society. Probably that is what the government wants (nobody wants potential threats for their system), but we'll try to change it. Maybe we can start with a little of basic education, as Bikerman proposes. We'd also add vocabulary to that syllabus. Maybe a forum as well and incentives to participate in the topics. This is becoming more and more promising.
Bikerman
A basic understanding of logical fallacies is essential, IMHO.
It would take a long posting to explain, and there is already good material on the web to do it, so I'll just provide links.
http://www.logicalfallacies.info/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies
http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logicalfallacies.aspx

A basic understanding of stats is equally essential if you are to understand the media. When a headline screams about a 300% rise in cancer cases amongst those who eat celery,* it adds a bit of perspective if you also understand that this could mean a rise from 1 in three million to 1 in a million. Interesting, yes. Reason to stop eating celery? Hardly. A basic understanding of probability, average/mean/median and other basic measures frequently used in the media would be invaluable.


*This is invented but pretty representative of many such headlines.
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