The Critical Mind

Sorry falks, this post is long, but it was spontaneous, I couldn’t help it, and had to post it in two parts.

Many Muslims come visit my blog, thinking that I’m a lost soul that needs “refinement!”, or someone who “magnifies the bad” because she (me) does not understand “True Islam”. Some even feel sorry for me; my past tragedies are to blame for the permanent damage in my “head!”. But some are so damn arrogant to believe that for no apparent reasons, I’m as stubborn as a mule when it comes to my beliefs.

You see, they don’t understand that I have a skeptical mind, a mind that is critical to everything.

My daughter is studying psychology online with a Canadian University. In one of her main textbook’s introductory pages, under “To the Student ”, I saw a note from the administration that read:
“Critical thinking applications
Each personal application is always followed by a two-page Critical Thinking Application that teaches and models basic critical thinking skills… Like the personal applications they are part of the text’s basic content and should be read unless you are told otherwise by your instructor. Although the “facts” of psychology will gradually change after you take this course …the critical thinking molded in these sections should prove valuable for many years to come.”

How true. Pay attention to the bold and the italic words.

This is the method of education we need in our schools, at least starting in high schools. This type of education creates true science and scientists. It gives an analytical tool to express one’s own opinion, instead of taking other’s imposed thoughts for granted. Memorization and repetition methods, that we inherited from our ancestor’s Islamic civilization only created zombies (pun intended). But this method of education creates true skeptics. Skeptics who are always in search of evidence. And who forever seek knowledge. And who are the most believers when they find their evidences and reach their own logic, their own truths.

But unfortunately; a critical mind is critical to everything, every little aspect of life; religion included. One can’t have a hurricane overflowing everything, but casting off the taboo zone. It’s like a fountain, once it opens, it can never stop, and it may overflow and demolish all old beliefs, but it creates a peace of mind.
Critical thinking method created science, invented machines, prolonged the average age of man, critical thinking method is the way of the civilized West, the West that proved that earth is not flat, and that the sun did not change course as a result of the prayers of man, as far as we know.

The best of what our method of education did was producing university doctors, with spotlight certificates, displayed on glossy walls that says “PHDers”, but don’t ask in what? They teach generation after generation how to be herded. But unable to give a decent speech in their own field, in front of an audience. Let alone give a free speech.

Memorization is important, especially when the student starts an introductory course into a subject. It gives the student a wealth of terminology necessary for communication. But it should not be the bases on which to build a whole educational system. We should not encourage our children to memorize “the ideal solutions” in one of those printed “solutions” handbooks to insure that they get the highest grades; this is cheating. This is stealing someone else thoughts and style, and not expressing their own ideas, their own perception of the right solution, or the right answer to a question. We should let them express the solution in their own natural way, through critical thinking tools. The critical mind has the ability to see that solution from different perspectives, and wider range.

Few days ago I noticed my son writing some math equations down on a piece of paper, when he finished he said; “ now I’m done with my cheat page.” When he saw my eyes wide open, he exclaimed, “don’t worry mom, it’s legal.” Apparently the teacher asked them to write down some of the equations they could not memorize, and students were allowed to peek on that page whenever they wanted while taking the quiz. More or less like open book exams. How convenient! LOL
Memorizing equations to my son’s teacher apparently was not the bases on which the students were graded, but rather, which equations to use and how to manipulate and use those equations to reach the correct answers.

But, how could we encourage our children’s critical thinking capabilities when we do not want them to be “critical” in the first place?

To be continued