Friday, September 28, 2012

The Dangers of Groupthink.

Oh look, another article promoting critical thinking & common core.  The irony is delightful.  If only the pushers of these would follow their own (non-)advice and think critically for a few moments.  If only they understood the extreme case of group think that educational "experts" display.

Let's take a look at a few of their claims:

"The goal, say experts, is to ... to create a pipeline of native talent for the millions of STEM jobs going begging—in science, technology, engineering, and math."

Problem:  There is no STEM shortage.  NoneZipZilch.  Repeat after me:  THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATH employees.

"For example: How would a feminist critic view Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window?"

First of all, let me just say, "What?"  Doing research into a very specific question (on a subject that is hardly objective) is "better learning" than what, exactly?  More importantly,

"They read related texts from different genres, think critically to reach an informed conclusion...."

 Ah yes, "critical thinking"...which used to be called "thinking" before someone decided to make a quick buck off of pushing a phantasmal concept.  What exactly is critical thinking, you ask?

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.
 Whew...that's some top-quality bullsh*ttin', right there.  If that's critical thinking, what is un- or "noncrtical" thinking?  Instinct?  Seriously people, think for a minute, critically or otherwise.  Maybe it means this.  Or just about whatever you want, because like most edubabble, it means "I sure wish I could make this sound smart even though it isn't." (Sort of like "rectifying a consequence for a tardy", which I think in olden days was just called "getting detention".  Note:  How does one "rectify a consequence"?)

"In math, the shift is away from lectures and rote working of equations to the practical application of mathematical processes, often in teams, to real-world situations."

Showing how they're used in real-life is great--except you have to pick a few examples of how it is used, since you can't possibly cover every one.  Which means you're still not really "getting it".  Sure, toss in some examples, but the key is that the kids can actually do the work.  That way, if they are asked to apply it professionally later in their lives, they can.  Practice, practice, practice!

"The idea is to help students gain "a broader understanding of mathematical purpose..."

Again, that's all well and good, but it's more important that they can actually DO the math, isn't it?

"Students will study only the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems rather than all 11 body systems."

And here we have the real crux of the problem:  High School should be getting as broad an education as possible, in my opinion.  College, whether it be community, undergraduate university, or the ultimate in specialization, graduate school, can provide the details once the student has chosen a career path.

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