Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Subversion and Truth

Responding to Ken Carroll, who writes,

The real purpose of education, I believe, centers around the pursuit of truth.

The pursuit of truth is a subversive activity. It is probably the most subversive activity.

Authority - especially in our own society - depends typically on fiction. These fictions typically describe some way in which our rulers are ‘naturally’ rulers.

The divine right of kings has been replaced, in secular society, by the right of the ballot, but the process of democratic election is itself a fiction.

The teacher’s role is to help learners find truth, not to instill a particular political view of the world.

Quite so - but it is precisely this practice that is discouraged, and even punished, in our education system.

Our mechanism of testing, for example, masures not how much students are *able* to learn, but rather, how much they *have learned* of a specified curriculum.

Our methods of teaching focus on the memorization of facts, rather than the cultivation of disciplines - such as, say, logic and critical thinking - that allow them to think for themselves.

Students’ assertions of their own right to express themselves are routinely squelched at all levels of administration, including the courts.

The teacher’s role is to help learners find truth, not to instill a particular political view of the world…

Teachers express ‘truth’ every day; it is the major part of the curriculum. This ‘truth’ constitutes the academic subjects, as well as the system of values and expectations created by a certain ‘polite’ society.

Teachers deviating from this approved curriculum are accused of ‘preaching’ and of ‘ideological teaching’ - as though the pronouncements from the permissable perspective are ideologically neutral.

Crucially: if a teacher is to be expected to teach the pursuit of truth, and to value students’ own pursuit of the truth, then they must *model* and demonstrate their *own* pursuit of truth, and their own exercise of the freedom to express their own truth.

How could you ever trust the assertions of a teacher who says “you are free” when all teachers, without exception, follow some sort of party line?

To teach the freedom to pursue one’s own truth is to *be* free to pursue one’s own truth. You do not encourage the seeking of truth in the classroom by telling teachers to suppress what they believe to be true.

If this means that some teachers - or even a majority - espouse a left wing ideology, so be it. For people of the right to promote the freedom of thought by squelching what they believe to be left wing or liberal ideology is the height of hypocrisy.

If you want teachers to espouse right wing philosophies, pay them more. Otherwise, the vast majority of teachers will choose their profession based on some concept of the social good, a position that will put them at odds with the set of fictions created and promoted in order to preserve the ideology of the government (accurately described above as “the kleptocracy of the powerful”).

As I say to Gardner, who writes,

Anti-authoritarianism doesn't solve the problem of authority, in my view.

Anti-authoritarianism is, in essence, thinking for oneself, rather than thinking as one is told.

No problem of authority has ever been solved by any other means.


14 comments:

  1. "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." --Audre Lorde

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  2. Nice statement, Stephen.

    The educational systems we now have are designed to fabricate "angst". Angst serves to keep the potentially unruly under control, but it must be focused on individuals. It is therefore important:

    1. to have a separate angst for teachers and learners (if they were to share the same one, revolution would ensue as they would perceive a common cause),

    2. to reinforce the culture of individualism that prevents anything from being shared other than as an “opinion” (see below).

    How is the angst generated. Teachers are designated role players who bear the angst associated with their identification (discerned on them by their employers) as authorities in a specifically limited area, a remunerated designation that authorizes them only to speak or write “in the workplace” strictly within the limits of their domain. Their angst is focused on the fragile sense they have of their own legitimacy, which is put into doubt on many different levels in our Western cultures. The first is economic, since the dominant ideology inherited from the industrial age tells us that only material production can be considered as angst-free. The post-industrial order has pushed that to a higher level by equating production with profit and elevating financial speculation to the top of the hierarchy of productive actives. Educating (basically thought of as telling non-threatening pre-formatted and officially approved stories to the unknowing and uncaring) is way down at the bottom, though there is an atavistic idealization of teachers as a class of “people who know something”, a status which actually dispenses the “productive population” from having to know anything other than their chosen routine.

    In other words, teachers are seen as useless as such but useful to maintain certain myths.

    As for learners, the angst, as Illich stated long ago, is about being accepted by the system and learning its tacit rules: initiation. Of course, the tacit not only cannot be taught, it mustn’t be mentioned. Otherwise people will start using intellectual (as opposed to industrial) tools to put it in context and discover what is really driving the system. That might even given them a sense of power over the system and invalidate their angst about being accepted by a system that doesn’t need to be analysed because it’s simply there to be empirically observed (i.e. recognized and accepted).

    As a learner, to interiorize the tacit rules you have to remain focused on the explicit BS of curricula, on which you will continually tested for short-term learning results (you have the right to forget everything after passing the test). The long-term result is the only one that’s of interest: getting yourself accepted in a role within the system. The lazy and/or indecisive end up in the educational system, carrying their angst with them whereas the “resolute” pursue their MBAs, law degrees etc. or go for vocational training. Of course a few passionate “educational vocationists” get through, and the system merely has to tolerate them from time to time, even let them have a Speakers’ Corner platform at the edge of an Educational Hyde Park to vent from. The key to making this work is the following ideological tenet so well formulated by Ken Carroll:

    “no teacher can ‘know’ political truths - he can only hold opinions.”

    On the face of it, this isn’t so outlandish. It’s just that political doesn’t mean just politics, it means any systemic analysis of social context, economic infrastructure and ambient culture: the reality of the polis. Now this is a precise skill intellectuals have traditionally been bred for and involved in, harking back to a tradition that includes Plato’s Republic, Thomas More’s Utopia as well as plenty of “highbrow” fiction (theatre, satire, novels, etc.). But the key idea here is the so-called democratic right which endows everyone with an “opinion” that can be collectively expressed only as a vote on an officially printed ballot (butterfly or otherwise, electronic or chad). The best and worst ideas, concepts, analyses, theses, remedies, etc. are nothing more than opinions, and therefore have no “productive status”. The putative justification is that there is no objective standard for separating the best from the worst, the true and the false. But that of course is the most convenient way to make power and influence the sole arbiters of socially acceptable “thought”. Which is a perfect recipe for producing ideological conformity.

    Personally I find the “punk” meme distasteful, partly because punk was so cleverly marketed as part of the commercial music system and therefore an example of what the French call recupération, or worse, the consciously planned production of a new trend, the deliberate creation of a marketing niche in a system that thrives financially on conspicuous novelty.

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  3. Excellent analysis, and one that basically accords with my own observations.

    > punk was so cleverly marketed as part of the commercial music system

    It was.

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  4. Thanks for the clear and short posting. I'm an enthusiastic and a (so far) silent reader of your OLDaily, and It helped me turn a personal pursuit into an occupation. I would very much like to agree with you’re universalistic notions of education, which echoes from many directions, form Illich to my boss and mentor- Roni Aviram. I have to say only that the pursuit of the truth is not the sole purpose of education. As a father of two young sons, who have gone through some effort to create a worm community for them to grow up in, I know who ever said once that “it takes a whole village to raise a child” is correct. I can tell by the shine in my sons’ eyes as they share their time and games with their friends and neighbors. They really are surrounded by many people whom they know by name, and feel safe with.
    A community (even the “loose cluster of people” needed for the emergence of our connective knowledge) is a bunch of people meeting on common grounds, and much more- people who share some sort of responsibility to preserve the community. Their commitment need not be a product of “angst”, but rather a product of their voluntary choice to be a part of something they find meaningful, and their will to preserve and develop it.
    A teacher who lives this kind of active participation in a meaningful community, which he/she have freely joined, will educate kids to do the same, by ways of modeling, and even unintentionally. This is exactly what the community that hired him/her wants, and what is so natural the children who were born into it.
    Keep on your good work!
    Yossi Shcellas

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  5. Our methods of teaching focus on the memorization of facts, rather than the cultivation of disciplines - such as, say, logic and critical thinking - that allow them to think for themselves.

    Not only is this a false dichotomy it's also wrong.

    Students need both facts and logical/critical thinking. Critical thinking is domain specific and isn't accomplished in a vacuum. Nor does it generalize to other domains. Basically, you need to know quite a bit about a domain before you can think critically about it.

    See Critical Thinking: Why is it so hard to reach

    The remainder of this post is do ridiculous it makes my head hurt, but I suppose it keeps you out of trouble.

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  6. Not only is this a false dichotomy it's also wrong. Students need both facts and logical/critical thinking.

    I never say that students don't need facts. I say (a) they don't need the memorization of facts, and (b) that the memorization of facts shouldn't be undertaken to the exclusion o critical thinking.

    Because, you now, it makes it too difficult to understand arguments you're criticizing.

    Critical thinking is domain specific and isn't accomplished in a vacuum. Nor does it generalize to other domains.

    Never said it does. Though that said there is a great deal of critical thinking that is not domain specific. And the general principles of logic and mathematics are just that: general.

    Basically, you need to know quite a bit about a domain before you can think critically about it.

    This is empirically false.


    See Critical Thinking: Why is it so hard to reach

    It's also worth noting that there reference cited here quotes - in bold call-out text, "Teaching content alone is not likely to lead to proficiency in science, nor is engaging in inquiry experiences devoid of meaningful science content." Which is virtually a clone of my own statement.

    The remainder of this post is do ridiculous it makes my head hurt, but I suppose it keeps you out of trouble.

    Now that was adult. Is that he best you can manage?

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  7. I never say that students don't need facts. I say (a) they don't need the memorization of facts, and (b) that the memorization of facts shouldn't be undertaken to the exclusion o critical thinking.

    Even this reformulation is wrong on both counts.

    Some facts should be memorized. for example, you need to know the definitions of many common words so you can understand written and spoken language without constant reference to a dictionary or google. In fact, you can't even use these tools effectively without this knowledge.

    The memorization of facts is not being undertaken to the exclusion of critical thinking.

    While I think we both agree students aren't learning how to think critically, it's not because they're spending time memorizing facts. If anything, the present emphasis is on learning concepts (like "freedom") dirvorced from their factual underpinnings. I'd go as far to say that there is an overemphasis on the teaching of "critical thinking" generally with the belief that it will transfer over to the critical thinking in various domains, which it generally won't.

    And the general principles of logic and mathematics are just that: general.

    Math and logic are their own domains and are fundamental, as is much of what's supposed to be taught in k-8. But just because the knowledge of logic is a useful tool for use in other domains does not make logic somehow "general."

    This is empirically false

    how so?

    Is that he best you can manage?


    I pulled a page out of the Downes laybook. :)

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  8. Some facts should be memorized. for example, you need to know the definitions of many common words...

    You are confusing between memorization, which is a process, and remembering, which is a result.

    We want remembering, but there are many ways to achieve remembering without memorization. Knowing the definition of words, for example, is something we remember, but something we acquire though use, and very rarely memorize.

    This distinction is basic in educational theory.

    While I think we both agree students aren't learning how to think critically, it's not because they're spending time memorizing facts....

    The current emphasis on prepping for standardized tests suggests otherwise.

    I'd go as far to say that there is an overemphasis on the teaching of "critical thinking" generally with the belief that it will transfer over to the critical thinking in various domains, which it generally won't.

    I think you must have some very idiosyncratic understanding of critical thinking, since you continue to assert things about it that are demonstrably not true.

    Math and logic are their own domains and are fundamental, as is much of what's supposed to be taught in k-8. But just because the knowledge of logic is a useful tool for use in other domains does not make logic somehow "general."

    No, that is not what makes general. But it is the result of it being general.

    Again, it is not clear to me that you understand the concepts you are talking about. The concept of modus ponens, for example, is both (a) general, and (b) applicable regardless of domain. Moreover, understanding modus ponens, and the fallacious forms of it, is fundamental to critical thinking.

    how so?

    The example of the use of modus ponens is but one of hundreds that could be adduced as examples of the concept.

    I pulled a page out of the Downes laybook. :)

    Um... apparently not.

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  9. You are confusing between memorization, which is a process, and remembering, which is a result.

    If I am its only beause I was trying to read your initial argument in a way that makes sense.

    Unless your data is coming from the local madrassa, there is very little memorization going on in schools according to your definition.

    This is evident from your standardaized test prep example. Test prep isn't mostly memorization; test prep is mostly practice on questions similar to those likely to be on the test.

    When you redefine "test prep" in your next comment try to be harmonize it with your previous comments, to save us both some time.

    I think you must have some very idiosyncratic understanding of critical thinking, since you continue to assert things about it that are demonstrably not true.

    This confirms that your data is coming from the madrassa and not real schools. In real schools throughout Canada and the US the focus is on teaching "higher order thinking" as a way to avoid the learning of all those messy facts. Which is almost exactly the formulation you used initially replete with the educationese "cultivation" and the characterization of the learning of all facts with "memorization." You can avoid confusion by avoiding the standard educational cliches in your writing.

    The concept of modus ponens, for example, is both (a) general, and (b) applicable regardless of domain. Moreover, understanding modus ponens, and the fallacious forms of it, is fundamental to critical thinking.

    It's fundamental to logic and logic can be used in many other domains. But, that's the extent of the transference. We're getting into semantics now.

    The example of the use of modus ponens is but one of hundreds that could be adduced as examples of the concept.

    Your knowledge of math and logic is of little use in critically thinking about a domain which you know little about. Let's test the theory. Let's pick a subject that I'll assume you don't have a great deal of domain knowledge in, like thermodynamics. Without gaining any speific domain knowledge (such as by using any external sources) critically think about the interplay of enthalpy and entropy in a closed system using your knowledge of logic. (If you have domain knowledge in thermodynamics, I can pick another subject.)

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  10. If I am its only beause I was trying to read your initial argument in a way that makes sense.

    There is no 'if' about it. And it's a pretty dubious tactic, blaming your error on me.

    Unless your data is coming from the local madrassa...

    Worth noting: "The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization examined bias in United States newspaper coverage of Pakistan since the September 11, 2001 attacks, and found the term has come to contain a loaded political meaning: 'When articles mentioned 'madrassas,' readers were led to infer that all schools so-named are anti-American, anti-Western, pro-terrorist centers having less to do with teaching basic literacy and more to do with political indoctrination.'"

    I can't say I'm surprised to see you drop such a loaded term into this discussion. Disappointed, though.

    ... there is very little memorization going on in schools according to your definition.

    I haven't defined 'memorization', I have merely distinguished it from 'remembering'.

    This is evident from your standardaized test prep example. Test prep isn't mostly memorization; test prep is mostly practice on questions similar to those likely to be on the test.

    What I like is the way you continually deflect responsibility onto the person you are criticizing. It's a greasy tactic, but it takes a lot of skill, and you certainly have mastered it.

    Basically, what you are doing here is working with a very narrow definition of memorization, one that does not include rote repetition of exercises - but en passent you try to make it look as though it's my definition of memorization (one I never gave, recall) that is at issue here and that is the problem.

    How did you pull this off? By bringing in the politically loaded concept of the madrassa into the discussion, thus equating memorization to the chanting of verses from the Koran. But nobody thinks that memorization amounts to this.

    But bravo! Such deceptive reasoning requires real talent.

    When you redefine "test prep" in your next comment...

    Again, I have not in fact defined 'test prep'. But the truth is no hindrance to a good smear.

    ... try to be harmonize it with your previous comments, to save us both some time.

    This little pedantic remark is intended to make it look as though you, the critic, are the reasonable one. But note that to this point you haven't actually responded to anything I've said!

    This confirms that your data is coming from the madrassa and not real schools.

    Since nobody seriously expects I am collecting data from madrassas, this is just a racially loaded smear.

    In real schools throughout Canada and the US the focus is on teaching "higher order thinking" as a way to avoid the learning of all those messy facts....

    Insofar as there is a focus on higher order thinking, is is certainly not motivated by a desire to "avoid the learning of all those messy facts."

    And one wonders what the point would be of making a statement that is so obviously false.

    Probably the fact that, in U.S. schools at least, the emphasis on higher order thinking has been almost completely replaced by the emphasis on the standardized test.

    Two mistruths in one sentence. Bravo!


    ... Which is almost exactly the formulation you used initially replete with the educationese "cultivation" and the characterization of the learning of all facts with "memorization."

    It doesn't even resemble the formulation I use.

    You can avoid confusion by avoiding the standard educational cliches in your writing.

    Once again - blaming your misreading on me.

    Here's a better idea - why don't you go read at least one book with the words 'critical thinking' or 'critical reasoning' in the title. It won't give you the equivalent of my decade's experience teaching the subject, but it might prevent you from misusing the relevant language so badly.

    My goodness.

    It's fundamental to logic and logic can be used in many other domains. But, that's the extent of the transference. We're getting into semantics now.

    No - it's not simply that logic is used in other domains. It's that other domains - all other domains - are constrained by the precepts of critical thinking.

    The fact that you're writing about education, for example, doesn't get you off the hook regarding the satisfaction of the principles of good evidence.


    Your knowledge of math and logic is of little use in critically thinking about a domain which you know little about.


    A fascinating assertion.

    So, if I spot a basic mathematical error in a document outside my special areas of expertise, am I to say, "oh, I'm not qualified, math might be different here?"

    That would be ridiculous.

    It does mean I need to be sensitive to the possibility that, say, octal numbering, or vector algebra (both of which might produce the appearance of a mathematical error). But that's a case of bneing more deeply grounded in critical thinking, not a specific domain.

    In the same manner, when I read a post of yours, and I see that the comments are most obviously about the person you are criticizing, rather than the evidence or arguments being advanced, I can tell that you are being deceptive, that you are distracting readers with ad hominems, and that you have not refuted the position in question.

    Let's test the theory. Let's pick a subject that I'll assume you don't have a great deal of domain knowledge in, like thermodynamics. Without gaining any speific domain knowledge (such as by using any external sources) critically think about the interplay of enthalpy and entropy in a closed system using your knowledge of logic.

    That's a ridiculous proposition. That's not how 'thinking critically' works (you may as well have said 'think mathematically about the interplay of enthalpy and entropy in a closed system', etc.)

    Critical thinking is about the presentation of arguments or explanations, and especially the methods and techniques for assessing those. To say 'use critical thinking' without something specific to use it on is to make an empty demand.

    Now... unless you have something concrete to say, please don't waste my time.

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  11. My only error was trying to have a serious debate with the king of jabberwocky.

    Most of your comment fails to advance the argument substantively, so I'll skip those parts until you have something of value to argue.

    By bringing in the politically loaded concept of the madrassa into the discussion, thus equating memorization to the chanting of verses from the Koran. But nobody thinks that memorization amounts to this.

    Of course, that's not what I said or meant. The cahnting is accomplished by rote memorizatn of the Koran verses, and quite frankly, it was the only example I could think of, in which such rote memorization is done. I thought you'd be adult enough not to go for the terrorist cheapshot angle; I should have known better. (Good way to deflect the substantive point though.)

    Basically, what you are doing here is working with a very narrow definition of memorization, one that does not include rote repetition of exercises

    No, my definition would include rote repetition. It is you who are trying to expand the definition of memorization to include practice and rehearsals which are not necessarily rote memorization. Solving fifty different quadratic equations is not rote learning. Solving the same equation fifty times is. The former is practice, the latter is memorization. You have conflated the two.

    Insofar as there is a focus on higher order thinking, is is certainly not motivated by a desire to "avoid the learning of all those messy facts."

    Of course it is, see the collected works of Don Hirsh, this is a reurrent theme.

    Probably the fact that, in U.S. schools at least, the emphasis on higher order thinking has been almost completely replaced by the emphasis on the standardized test.


    Talk about your obviously false statements. Even if standardized test are being "emphasized," whatever that's supposed to mean, doesn't mean that the emphasis is supplanting the teaching of higher order thinking. I'm sure there is no data either way on the issue, which is no say, you are making it all up.

    It won't give you the equivalent of my decade's experience teaching the subject, but it might prevent you from misusing the relevant language so badly.

    I'll avoid all the obvious cheapshots here, but I will note the apeal to authority fallacy. As I think you know, it's better advocacy to argue the merits than resort to logical fallcies.

    It's that other domains - all other domains - are constrained by the precepts of critical thinking.

    An irrelevant point which neither refutes my argument or advances yours.

    So, if I spot a basic mathematical error in a document outside my special areas of expertise, am I to say, "oh, I'm not qualified, math might be different here?"

    No, but your critical thinking and criticism would be confined to the mathematics in which you have domain knowledge. Math is its own domain.

    But that's a case of being more deeply grounded in critical thinking, not a specific domain.

    No, it's about having knowledge in a specific domain, math, and using that knowledge to think critically enitrely in that domain by criticising the mathematical aspect of another domain.


    Here's a simple thermodynamics equation: H = U - pV. Use your math knowledge and explain why its right or wrong and why.

    In the same manner, when I read a post of yours, and I see that the comments are most obviously about the person you are criticizing, rather than the evidence or arguments being advanced, I can tell that you are being deceptive, that you are distracting readers with ad hominems, and that you have not refuted the position in question.

    Cute but wrong. What you can tell is that those logical fallacies are irrelevant to any point I am trying to make, and may be present for any number of reasons (i.e., deceptiveness, entertainment, ridicule, wahtever). Inferring a motivation or intent absent proof is not a good display of critical thinking skills.

    That's a ridiculous proposition. That's not how 'thinking critically' works ...

    To say 'use critical thinking' without something specific to use it on is to make an empty demand


    Sure it does. I'm asking you, by yourself, to devise an effective explanation of how two properties of thermodamics work in a particular thermodynamic system, which are three important aspects of critical thinking -- effectiveness, novelty, and self-directedness. I thought you said you understood what critical thinking/reasoning was. My goodness, Stephen.

    Now... unless you have something concrete to say, please don't waste my time.

    Should I assume that the use of these ridiculous rhetorical devices is a sign of deception?

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  12. This is a ridiculous debate. You insist on using langauge to your specifications, and then blaming others for your errors.

    Of course, that's not what I said or meant...

    And yet, mandrassa is the word you used, your dissembling to the contrary notwithstanding...

    The cahnting is accomplished by rote memorizatn of the Koran verses, and quite frankly, it was the only example I could think of, in which such rote memorization is done...

    Thus proving that you are the only person in the world to use your particular definition of 'rote'.

    I thought you'd be adult enough not to go for the terrorist cheapshot angle;

    Right - you take the cheap shot and make it my fault.


    Basically, what you are doing here is working with a very narrow definition of memorization, one that does not include rote repetition of exercises
    No, my definition would include rote repetition.


    Contradicting what was just said above, about only being able to find one example.

    Sheesh. I actually read, you know.

    It is you who are trying to expand the definition of memorization to include practice and rehearsals which are not necessarily rote memorization....

    I love the weaseling. "Not necessarily rote..." But which, nonetheless, are.

    Solving fifty different quadratic equations is not rote learning.

    I didn';t say it is.

    But I will certainly say it is not an application of higher order thinking.

    We might call it 'rote practice'.

    Again though - you are trying to force me into a false dilemma of your makeing. I do not divide the world into 'rote memorization' and 'higher level learning'. You do (at the same time clinging to a one-example definition of rote learning).

    Of course it is, see the collected works of Don Hirsh, this is a reurrent theme.

    No links or cites, of course.

    (The major tactic of this sort of argumentation is to make the other person do more work than you).

    Irrelevant, in any case, unless I see some argumentation to show that we should take the writings of Don Hirsh as representative of the entire educational system.

    Talk about your obviously false statements. Even if standardized test are being "emphasized," whatever that's supposed to mean, doesn't mean that the emphasis is supplanting the teaching of higher order thinking. I'm sure there is no data either way on the issue, which is no say, you are making it all up.

    Right. Because we're not supposed to nitice the widespread influence and impact of NCLB? Given that we've had seven years of it, I would say that the onus is on you to show that it is *not* the dominant trend in education now.

    I'll avoid all the obvious cheapshots here, but I will note the apeal to authority fallacy. ...

    It's not an appeal to authority when you cite your own experience.

    Moreover, the appeal to authority fallacy applies only when there is relevant disagreement among authorities in a field.

    The evidence cited - specifically, the books, as well as my own expeirence - would whow, if examined, that there is no disagreement in the field.

    Except from you - however, I think I can quite safely place you outside the field of critical thinking.

    It's that other domains - all other domains - are constrained by the precepts of critical thinking.

    No, but your critical thinking and criticism would be confined to the mathematics in which you have domain knowledge. Math is its own domain.

    Ah - you must have a specialized concept of 'domain'.

    Ever since the work of people like Wittgenstein and Kuhn, however, it has been agreed that what constitutes a domain is, at least in part, the practices of that domain (including the mathematics and methods of reasoning applied in the domain).

    No, it's about having knowledge in a specific domain, math, and using that knowledge to think critically enitrely in that domain by criticising the mathematical aspect of another domain.

    You're making this up on the fly now.

    Work within a domain consists pretty much entirely of the sort of practices you would say are external to the domain - mathematics, statistics, probability, observation and measurement, argumentation and explanation, definition, description, and the like.

    Here's a simple thermodynamics equation: H = U - pV. Use your math knowledge and explain why its right or wrong and why.

    That's like giving me a car and asking me to fly to the moon. Mathematics is not used to test principles expressing what may or may not be natural laws.

    What a person would do to determine the truth (or applicability) of that equation would be to (a) define the terms, and (b) set up an experimental research program (among other things).

    But this is not unique to thermodynamics.

    Cute but wrong. What you can tell is that those logical fallacies are irrelevant to any point I am trying to make...

    No, so far as I can tell, they are the point you are trying to make.

    They are certainly what you wrote.

    I'm asking you, by yourself, to devise an effective explanation of how two properties of thermodamics work in a particular thermodynamic system, which are three important aspects of critical thinking -- effectiveness, novelty, and self-directedness.

    You really must read more.

    What you describe is not critical thinking.

    "Critical thinking consists of mental processes of discernment, analysis and evaluation. It includes possible processes of reflecting upon a tangible or intangible item in order to form a solid judgment that reconciles scientific evidence with common sense."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking

    Don't bother replying. I'm done with this.

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  13. "Don't bother replying. I'm done with this."

    To reference your earlier comment, "Now that was adult."

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  14. ---Here's a simple thermodynamics equation: H = U - pV. Use your math knowledge and explain why its right or wrong and why.

    --That's like giving me a car and asking me to fly to the moon. Mathematics is not used to test principles expressing what may or may not be natural laws.

    is not used TO TEST principles??? do you even know what you're saying?

    It doesn't matter. Undergraduate physics majors use mathematics to explain H = U + PV every day. And they could derive why H = U - PV is wrong based just on math and definitions in domain knowledge of stat mech or thermo.

    None of these students is designing an experimental station to test enthalpy. In fact, if THAT is what was required to learn about enthalpy, you'd basically be suggesting that *teaching doesn't work*, that *reading doesn't work*, that *instruction is impossible*. You'd be saying that all we can do is reinvent wheels, because using math to show how a wheel turns can't work. You'd be suggesting that students can't learn the rightness of something by deriving it from other things they've been able to prove are true.

    So, in that case, give up now. Stop wasting their time and yours since no one can ever stand on the shoulders of anyone and learn anything.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome your comments - I'm really sorry about the moderation, but Google's filters are basically ineffective.