Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking for Parrots

Not actual parrots, I’m referring to humans who repeat words over and over without actually knowing what they mean. Specifically the phrase “critical thinking.” This is a very popular buzzphrase in education. So popular that I constantly see it used by people who have no idea how to actually practice …

Critical ThinkingFeaturedPrimary EducationReligionUncategorized

Going Up Against the Good News Club: An Interview with Dan Courtney

Dan Courtney is President Emeritus of the Freethinkers of Upstate New York and is active in a number of Freethought and church/state separation groups. Dan gained international attention for being the first Atheist to offer an invocation at the Town of Greece following the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the …

Critical ThinkingEducationPedagogySecondary Education

Is Bill Nye teaching creationism? Should debates on origins be forbidden in science classrooms?

Brandon Pettenger is (was?) an Arroyo Grande High School science teacher in the Lucia Mar Unified School District of California.  Apparently he had students watch a recording of the recent Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate as to whether or not creationism is a legitimate scientific alternative theory to evolution by Natural …

Critical ThinkingCross-post

Intuition and Domain Knowledge

Can you guess what the graphs at the right show? I’ll give you a couple of hints: (1) each graph measures performance on a different task, (2) one pair of bars in each graph—left or right—represents participants who used their intuition on the task, while the other pair of bars …

Critical ThinkingCross-postEducation

Letting Go of Free Will

The most popular conception of free will—a notion that lies mostly unexamined until it becomes necessary to defend it—is that there is something inside our minds (a “ghost in the machine“) that, as Steven Pinker says, “reads the TV screen of the senses and pushes buttons and pulls levers of …

Critical ThinkingCross-postEducationPedagogy

Telling Vs. No Telling

So, with that in mind, let’s move on to just one of the dichotomies in education, that of “telling” vs. “no telling,” and I hope the reader will forgive my leaving Clarke’s paper behind. I recommend it to you for its international perspective on what we discuss below. “Reports of …

Critical ThinkingHigher Education

Should colleges and universities require students to take courses on diversity?

Here at UCLA, we faculty voted some months ago to add a “diversity” course requirement for graduation.  Such a course could be taken from any number of departments on campus, as long as the course substantially addressed issues of diversity in cultures (everything from literature to religion), human populations, behaviors …

Critical ThinkingCross-postEducationUncategorized

Sophisticated Educators, Please Stand Up

People have been talking about false dichotomies in math education forever, it seems. And so have I (as long as you think of seven years ago as “forever”). And so has Professor David Clarke! His paper, titled Using International Research to Contest Prevalent Oppositional Dichotomies, was published in 2006, and …

Critical ThinkingEducationPrimary EducationScience

Tackling Science Project Turmoil

Science Fairs can sometimes get a bad rap. As a recent viral image illustrates, these school projects are often met with dread by students, families, and yes – even teachers. But I’d like to propose that science projects – done properly – are a valuable tool in teaching children how …

Woman in front of mirror with towel on her head.
Critical ThinkingEducationPedagogy

Teaching Topless

I’d like to share a really nice presentation below by Valerie Otero, professor of science education, and Edd Taylor, assistant professor of math education, both with the University of Colorado at Boulder. And then I’ll bother you with some thoughts about it.   The unifying theme here is the pyramid …