Let’s Gather and Share Ideas – No Technology, Just Human Beings.

The following are statements and questions ( from my readings and own personal musings) about the many facets of education – please send me others, and I will add them to the following 25. I propose these questions/statements be used in your team meetings and/or have a discussion in the round as one of the workshop offerings in August or January and/or have periodic cross or interdepartmental discussions in the round. What do you think?

  1. What makes for an educated person?
  2. Students who memorize selected information and formal definitions are not truly acquiring knowledge and understanding that is retained or ultimately practical for them. See Ebbinghaus’ “curve of forgetting.”
  3. Rote learning is often ineffective for it is usually short-lived, a poor indicator of understanding and it does not encourage the connecting of learning to life; and it misleads the teacher and student as to what really has been learned and understood.
  4. Do you teach for understanding of the subject matter – examples?
  5. Speaking of understanding, do you lack a depth and breadth in the subject(s) you teach?
  6. When thinking students ask you questions that you have standard textbook answers, did that make you more aware that you need to start thinking more often yourself?
  7. Are your answers to questions more canned than perhaps you need more time to think about the question(s)?
  8. When learning a body of content, do you need to figure out the connections between the parts of that content?
  9. Socratic questioning is essential to any class course subject matter.
  10. Most teachers do not have a global perspective or have not been globally educated.
  11. Education of the head and not of the heart is incomplete and ineffective to understand the interconnection or interplay between reason and emotion.
  12. Do you agree or disagree with the following quotation by James Stevens, philosopher—“The head does not hear anything until the heart has listened; and the heart knows today what the head will understand tomorrow.”
  13. Education should be designed so that all students are encouraged to think for themselves, and to come to their own views and perspectives re the nature of the world we live in.
  14. The quality of learning is directly dependent upon the quality of the teacher’s thinking.
  15. We learn by doing.
  16. Do we understand the basic and inner logic of the subject matter we teach?
  17. Critical thinking is fundamental to any course – the question is – what do you understand by critical thinking? The following is on page one of my syllabus which we discuss the first day—-

Why Critical Thinking?

The Problem: Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet, the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.

A definition: critical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with the idea of improving it.

The Result: A well cultivated thinker:

  1. Raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely
  2. Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
  3. Comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards
  4. Thinks open -mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  5. Communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems

Conclusion: critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It requires rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities, and a commitment to overcoming our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.


18.  One’s intelligence is assumed to be more or less an unchangeable collection of innate capacities and limitations of a person’s brain.

19. We should teach how our students learn or our students should learn how we teach – thus, we should attempt to assess the learning styles of our students and adapt these teaching styles to challenge each student’s learning style.

20. Students should be taught how to engage in the basic methods of inquiry used within a subject matter; and they should spend much more of their time doing so.

21.  Do we inhibit a student’s learning by allowing that person to sit quietly in the classroom?

22. Education should foster the intellectual skills that enable students to distinguish between cultural mores and ethical principles.

23. Every course should have an ethical principle and application learning plan.

24. We need to challenge students who mindlessly process all cultures without achieving any critical analysis and possible experience of the cultures.

25.The overuse or misuse of technology can squeeze the life from our hearts; for the information highway is simply information more than it is knowledge, understanding, or wisdom.

(Educational Fads, Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder – The Foundations of Critical Thinking)

Roger J. Vanden Busch

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