October 1, 2022
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Foundations of Critical Thinking

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Let us not forget that in the United States, schools were established specifically to transmit self-evident true beliefs conducive to proper conduct and successful “industry” through inculcation. Michael Wigglesworth’s Day of Doom, a detailed description of the terrifying fate of condemned sinners, was the best seller in 17th Century North America. It was heresy to doubt this fate. 

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Our hearts break for the victims of the mass shootings in Buffalo, NY, Laguna Woods, CA, and all the other cities where innocent people have been killed by ideologues or mentally ill people in recent years. These killings have become so common that we have become numb to them, unless we are directly affected. Families of those killed in mass shootings repeatedly demand that we eliminate the bias, prejudice, and hatred that underpins these crimes.

Though we know that mass murderers act for a variety of reasons,

based on a variety of assumptions and world views, we also know that their reasoning is fundamentally and dangerously flawed.

We would be able to better address this problem at a foundational and systemic level if we lived in a world where fairminded critical thinking was advanced and actively cultivated, rather than being given lip service. However, egocentric and sociocentric thinking, which are the polar opposites of rational, reasonable thinking, continue to be the norm in human societies, as they have been throughout history. Prejudice and bias emerge from group think at all levels of human society. Many social networking sites, whether intentionally or inadvertently, encourage distorted views. Supremacist ideologies appear to be on the rise all over the world. How sad that it takes humans so long to grasp and accept basic ethical principles to which all reasonable people should readily agree.

See excerpts from Liberating the course logical reasoning and analytical ability

We won’t be able to address the root problem of prejudice in human cultures until we actively foster understanding and embodiment of intellectual virtues such as intellectual empathy, intellectual autonomy, confidence and reason, and fairmindedness throughout schooling and society. It is prejudice that leads some imbalanced people to kill innocent people because of their skin colour, religious creed, or country of origin.

The History of Critical Thinking – Richard Paul Archives

Let us not forget that in the United States, schools were established specifically to transmit self-evident true beliefs conducive to proper conduct and successful “industry” through inculcation. Michael Wigglesworth’s Day of Doom, a detailed description of the terrifying fate of condemned sinners, was the best seller in 17th Century North America. It was heresy to doubt this fate. Governor Sir Williams Berkeley of Virginia could boast in 1671:

The demand for better reading and writing, skills increasingly necessary in the commercial and industrial activities of…

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Many people around the world are rightfully horrified by the Russian government’s destruction, murders, rapes, and other terrifying actions in Ukraine. Unfortunately, our natural tendency is to accept the agreed-upon story fed to us through mainstream media without question.

All three of these disastrous tendencies have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. The nuclear threat has increased dramatically. Adulation of the destroyers of life on Earth for saving civilization from the Russians had overridden the urgent need to drastically reduce fossil fuel use. Democracy and a free public sphere are also in grave danger.

It’s eerily similar to 90 years ago, though the stakes are much higher today. The United States then responded to the crisis by paving the way for social democracy, aided by a revitalised labour movement. Europe descended into fascist hell.

What happens next is unknown. The only certainty is that we are in charge.”

The History of Critical Thinking – Richard Paul Archives

Abstract

Richard Paul discusses the history of education in the United States from the perspective of critical thinking in this paper, which was first published in National Forum in 1985. He emphasises the traditional American emphasis on passive learning, training, and indoctrination, which dates back to the beginnings of education. He starts with a description of 17th-century attitudes before tracing the dominant view of education from the first European settlers to 20th-century criticisms.

The “critical thinking movement” is starting to have an impact on American schooling. California is a leading indicator in this regard. The massive 19-campus California State University system instituted a critical thinking graduation requirement four years ago, with the goal of:

Within two years, a parallel requirement was established by the even larger community college system. Two years later, the California State Department of Education is preparing to test all eighth-graders in three areas: reading and written expression, math, and social studies. Surprisingly, one-third of the items were designed to test critical thinking skills, which is a strikingly new testing emphasis. California’s Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction, David Gordon, recently stated that the state is only at the start of a series of reforms in this direction, which include textbooks, curriculum, staff development, and teacher education.

Until recently, the movement consisted of just a few scattered educators…

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