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Thinking Critically About Education

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L Hunter

on 6 May 2018

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Transcript of Thinking Critically About Education

Thinking Critically About Education
A big part of critical thinking
is simply
than we normally would by learning how to approach a topic or question from many angles.
How do we think about school?
Can that thinking change?
Should that thinking change?
the current education paradigm (model, structure) is based on the system of public education set up in the late 1800's
this is a two tier system:
the entire population divided into two groups?!
narrow ideas about what to learn and how to learn
the factory influence of late 1800s industrialization: standardization
1. Economy
2. Politics
2. Society
it produces obedient,
capable, "pre-trained"
economies of scale
familiar = good
testing = measurable "success"
appearance of fairness
why/how does standardization persist?
What's the effect of standardized education?
Divergent thinking and creativity deteriorate.
We're bored.
We need to be medicated to stay awake.
What's the alternative?
We shut our senses down.
We wake up and become "fully alive" by encouraging divergence.
more ways of learning
more questions
more answers
more creativity
more arts
more intelligences
more collaboration
less testing
more play
less sitting
less baggage
We learn how to think critically
about the ways things are.

We learn how to think differently.

more engagement
What do
education innovations
look like?
highest student achievement in the developed world
formal schooling starts at 7, instead of 5
lots of free play
multi-year teachers who teach a class through several grades
school autonomy (ie less political and administrative involvement)
trust in teachers (instead of administration telling them what to teach and how to teach)
fewer school hours (600 hrs per year vs 1,100 here)
only 7% acceptance rate to teaching programs (vs 53% in the USA)
NO STANDARDIZED TESTING! In Ontario, we've rebuilt our education system around standardized tests. How much of your class time was spent on preparing for the EQAO? Did this provide you with a valuable learning experience, or did you just learn how to take the test?
El Sistema, founded 1975, state funded youth music program
125 youth orchestras, 31 symphony orchestras
about 80% of participating students are from Venezuela's poorest families; the program keeps kids from getting involved in crime, keeps them in school, and helps them move upwards into advanced education and better income
about 350,000 students enrolled
total Venezuelan population: 29 million (Canada: 35 million)
in Canada, we're cutting music programs
What would you change
about your education?
One American professor of political science recently argued in
The New York Times
(July 2012) that no high school student should be forced to learn algebra....
What else could be done to increase student engagement and retention?

Does the current educational model prepare for new ways of recruiting, hiring and promoting using the "people analytics?" enabled by big data?
"Badge technology" identifies those who have the most prized workplace skills -- those who...
circulate actively
give time democratically to others
engage in brief but energetic conversations
spend as much time listening as talking
are willing to collaborate and help others
write effective patterns of written language
how much of your education so far has trained you in these skills?
New video games like "Wasabi Waiter" by Knack can quantify your...
ability to learn from mistakes
ability to prioritize
social intelligence
some workplaces are using these video games in their hiring process
Algorithms are constantly being generated to use "data exhaust" to determine "the potential of all workers, across all companies, all the time" (
Atlantic Monthly
, Dec. 2013)
Truly committed, driven people can hack their educations, going to the "University of YouTube" and seeking out other opportunities for learning. The traditional ways of getting ahead in the world are changing as technologies and innovations change and develop.
What does your "data exhaust" say about you?
TED talks or video games?
The New York Times or Facebook?
There are many ways of defining critical thinking, but here is one of my favourites:

"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."

Let's take a look at an example of how we might use critical thinking to explore something from new angles and perspectives....
In the following video, education researcher Ken Robinson explains how we can break out of our traditional ideas about schooling to improve education.
Let's go over some of those ideas again:
Full transcript